Lakeem Jackson is a 29 year old 196cm forward from Charlotte, North Carolina that completed his 7th professional season and third full season in Japan and second with Aomori Watts (Japan-B2 League) playing 30 games averaging 18.0ppg, 10.2rpg, Assists-5 (6.4apg), Steals-5 (1.7spg), FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 25.8%, FT: 50.9%. He will remain in Japan in 2020-2021 and play with Bambitious Nara (Japan-B2). In 2018-2019 he played with Ehime Orange Vikings (Japan-B2 League) playing 32 games averaging 18.7ppg, 11.2rpg, 4.0apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 57.3%, 3PT: 14.3%, FT: 46.4%. In 2017-2018 he had his first tour of duty with Aomori Watts (Japan-B2 League) playing 40 games averaging 11.9ppg, 5.8rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 53.4%, 3PT: 31.1%, FT: 50.0%. In 2016-2017 he split time with the ETB Wohnbau Baskets Essen (Germany-ProA) averaging 7.2ppg, 4.1rpg, 1.7apg, 2FGP: 57.7%, FT: 25.0%, left in Jan.’17, later that month moved to Sonic Boom KT (South Korea-KBL) playing 28 game averaging 6.3ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.1apg, FGP-2 (62.2%), FT: 33.3%. In 2015-2016 he played with the Rhein Stars Koeln (Germany-ProA) playing 29 games averaging 12.4ppg, 7.3rpg, 2.3apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 48.3%, 3PT: 15.0%, FT: 42.5% He played his first two professional seasons with BK Iskra Svit (Slovakia-SBL) averaging 14.0ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.9apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 59.5%, 3PT: 20.0%, FT: 47.3%and 18.0ppg, Reb-3 (8.6rpg), 2.4apg, Steals-5 (1.9spg), Blocks-3 (1.1bpg), FGP: 62.8%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 55.4%. He started his basketball career in 2009 with South Carolina (NCAA) where he played a total of 120 NCAA games and as a senior played 32 games averaging 7.5ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 56.0%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 33.9%. He spoke to germanhoops.com during the Coronavirus crisis
Hi Lakeem where are you at the moment and how is your current mood despite the world turmoil at the moment because of the out break of the Corona Virus?
I’m currently in Orlando, Florida trying to stay safe and in shape. The virus has left me a little confused. There are so many different stories and statistics in the news about it. So the best thing to do is to just stay safe and healthy.
When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world?
Yes! The first time I read an article while in Japan about the virus. I knew that it was something different and something that would last for an extended time.
How did you experience the day to day life in Japan during the Corona Virus outbreak? Did you see that corona effect on the culture there or was it not so much different happening in your day to day dealings?
In the beginning stages of the virus, there were no changes. My city in Japan was very late to have any cases. But towards the month of March, you could see little changes in the culture. Certain businesses would announce that they were closed just to prevent potential virus spreads
Did you become more aware about how you handle yourself in public in terms of shaking hands and not being in the line of fire with somebody coughing
Well the culture in Japan is not very big on ‘hand shaking’, so I wasn’t worried about that at all. Japan is also very conscious about spreading germs while sick. Face masks are a big part of their everyday life. Which led to the selling out of face masks in the country.
Before leagues were shut down there was a BCL game in Bonn against AEK Athens and a Fiba Europe Cup game in Bayreuth without spectators. What is your overall opinion of playing a game without fans?
Honestly I did not like playing without the fans in the arena. It was tough to play without fans while also thinking about the virus. The fans add so much to the game and to play without them just feels wrong.
What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?
I’ve learned that the entire world focuses too much on celebrities and sports superstars and way to little on the people who actually make a difference in our youths upbringing.
Will it be a big adjustment having to start 3 months earlier with workouts and basketball skill development? What will be the advantages and disadvantages of this?
Any time to get better is an advantage if you know what you’re working on.
The whole world economy is going to be affected including Polish basketball. How worried are you about the future of professional basketball. The next season will have many changes. How are you handling this mentally now not knowing what to expect?
It’s definitely going to be a tough market for everyone. I’m not worried about myself at all. All I can do is let my stats from last season do the talking and continue to prepare
How have you experienced the day to day life back home in the States? How has the Coronavirus affected your daily life? How have you been keeping in shape inside your home. Talk about the type of exercises and work out you have been able to perform inside your own 4 walls.
The State of Florida is slowly opening up the state in phases. Everyone seems to be a little annoyed with wearing face masks and gloves. I know someone that has a gym so that’s where I’ve been working out. I’ve been doing a lot of high intensity interval training. Treadmills, dumbbells and wind bikes are the main forms of equipment I’ve used to keep in shape.
If you had to name another player besides guys from your team that you have been in most contact via Social Media who would it be?
Honestly I haven’t spoken to anyone outside of my family since I arrived in the states. I’ve just been focused on enjoying my time at home.
This our 7th interview. We did 6 when you were with the RheinStars and our last was from November 3, 2016 when you were with the ETB Wohnbau Baskerts. Since our last interview you have found a new home in Japan. Has time flown by for you?
Yes, time has definitely flown by for me. I miss my Rheinstar days. Cologne is such a beautiful city. I need to take a visit to Germany soon. Japan has been my home for 3 seasons and I hope to finish my career there.
Your have played 3 seasons in Japan and finished the 2016-2017 season with Sonic Boom KT (South Korea-KBL): 28 games: 6.3ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.1apg, FGP-2 (62.2%), FT: 33.3%. Statistically it wasn’t a great season but was there something in those months playing in South Korea that caught you that didn’t let you leave Asia for the next playing seasons?
When I arrived in S.Korea after leaving my team in Germany, it was a tough time mentally for me. I decided to stay in Asia because I wanted to try something different and I heard Japan was a nice country to play in.
How key was American Leon Williams for you in your first season in Asia? The guy has played just about everywhere and has become a basketball star in South Korea in the last years. Was he one of those guys that showed you the ropes?
Leon was a great player. The thing I remember the most about his game was his ability to make mid- range shots. He rarely missed. The schedule in S.Korea was tough so we didn’t really hang-out due to having games and practices. But he was a solid player and I knew he would make a home there.
In 2017-2018 you played your first season in Japan with Aomori Watts (Japan-B2 League) playing 40 games averaging 11.9ppg, 5.8rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 53.4%, 3PT: 31.1%, FT: 50.0%. What was your wake up call to playing in Japan where you knew that you were far away from home?
I think my first wake up call was just the language barrier during day to day shopping.
You achieved your first triple double that season against Yamagata with 12/11/10 stats. Did a game like this change you mentally knowing of what you were actually capable of?
Actually it didn’t change anything mentally. I always knew how good of a passer I was before that game. It was just a matter of me giving up shots and getting my teammates involved. I had some great knock-down shooters on my team that year and they helped me get that triple-double.
In your second year in Japan you played with at Ehime Orange Vikings (Japan-B2 League) playing 32 games averaging 18.7ppg, 11.2rpg, 4.0apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 57.3%, 3PT: 14.3%, FT: 46.4%. You made a huge jump in rebounding averaging double double season stats. But you also played 14 minutes more than the pervious season. How do you rate your own season personally with the stats you put up in 35 minutes per game?
Anytime you’re able to increase your minutes for the next season, you want to increase your stats as well. If not, then you haven’t gotten better as a player.
You have played in Slovakia, and German Pro A previously. How would you compare the Japan B-League in competitive level and skill to the other leagues that you have balled in?
The B-league is definitely a faster paced league than the previous leagues I played. Germany and Slovakia were a lot more physical than the B-league
This past season you returned back to Aomori Watts (Japan-B2 League)exploding playing 30 games averaging 18.0ppg, 10.2rpg, Assists-5 (6.4apg), Steals-5 (1.7spg), FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 25.8%, FT: 50.9%. You had 6 triple doubles. How is Lakeem Jackson a different player today then 4 years ago with the RheinStars?
I think I’ve become a lot more knowledgeable of the game. My IQ has increased over the years just by playing in different leagues and watching players prepare.
How do you think will you go into future games knowing that you are capable of producing triple doubles? What do you feel do you need to keep working on to make getting triple doubles even more easy?
For me the main stat to getting a triple-double is rebounding. I’m a 6’5 wingman so I have to be in tip-top shape. Defensive rebounding can turn into either an assist or a point. So I think that I have to keep my defensive rebounding stats high in order to average somewhere close to a triple-double. I’m confident my teammates will make shots because of their preparation.
What is the next step for you? You seem to be very comfortable in Japan. Is there a good bet you will remain or could we see you coming back to Europe?
I can’t really say right now because of the current state of the world. But I love Japan and it’s culture. I would love to continue my career there and add to the memories I’ve already made for myself.
Do you still keep in touch with your old RheinStars teammates? Alex Foster and David Downs retired, but Aaron Jones had a break out season in the German BBL.
Aaron Jones is the only player from that team that I actually keep in contact with. I was surprised and jealous when I read that he returned to Germany. I miss Germany a lot and I know that he was excited to return. He played really well for his club and I hope it turns into him having a long career there
Luka Doncic had an amazing sophomore campaign. Is he a top 3 NBA player now? –
Luka is definitely top 5 but he’s not quite top 3 yet.
Where were you when you heard about the death of Kobe Bryant.. What kind of influence did he have on you during adolescence? –
I was in Japan and asleep when everything happened. I had so many text messages and missed calls that morning. I honestly didn’t believe it for almost two days. It just didn’t feel real and still doesn’t. Kobe’s impact on me was huge. From his attention to detail to his drive to win. I learned so much from just watching him and not even knowing him.
How bitter is it that the NCAA March Madness has been canceled? This tournament for some kids is the greatest time of their lives. What advice would you give that senior who worked hard for 4 years and would have had his one and only chance now? –
Only advice I could give them is to just remember the memories you made. And take what you learned those four years to prepare for the next level.
What was the last movie that you saw? –
The last movie I watched was ‘The Last Dance’
Thanks Lakeem for the chat