Jeremy Ireland (198-F-96, college: Elmhurst) is a 25 year old 198cm forward from Oak Park, Illinois that has two years of semi-pro ball experience in the United States and is looking to make the jump overseas. He began his basketball career at Fenwick High School. He then played two years at North Central College and then finished at Elmhurst College (NCAA3) averaging 14.8ppg, 8.5rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 52.1%, 3PT: 45.5%, FT: 80.4% as a junior and 14.5ppg, 6.8rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 51.2%, 3PT: 33.9%, FT: 75.4% as a senior. In the last two years he sampled professional experience with teams The Chi (ABA) averaging 19.5ppg, 11.5rpg, 3.5apg, with Phoenix Valley Outlaws (ABA) averaging 24.3ppg, 9.7rpg, 3.6apg, 1bpg, 1.3spg, FGP: 56.0%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 82.0% and with the West Coast Breeze (TBL). He spoke to eurobasket about his basketball career.
Jeremy thanks for talking to eurobasket.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?
Jeremy: It has been going well. I’m currently in Chicago and playing in various pro leagues throughout the city while still working on my game.
Before we talk about basketball, I have to ask you how you witnessed COVID the last year in the States. What was the most challenging thing for you to get used and with all you had to do as a professional player?
Jeremy: I think the biggest adjustment was not being able to be around my friends and family. It was also very hard to find food with everything being closed earlier in the day.
With all that you witnessed off the court how do you feel did COVID make you stronger as a man?
Jeremy: I think COVID made me focus on the things that were important to me. It forced me to use all my connections to find gyms and weight rooms, and make the time that I had worth it. It made me truly ask myself if I loved playing this sport.
You have been a professional player now for two years but have only played in semi-pro leagues in the States. How big is your urge to come overseas to ball?
Jeremy: I’ve really wanted to play overseas since I was a sophmore in high school. Coming from a small school, I was easy to overlook and I feel like I’ve put in the hours to really compete with guys who went to a bigger school.
Why do you feel haven’t you gotten a job yet overseas? Has it been mostly failed representation?
Jeremy: I do believe that most agents aren’t looking for small school players because it is not as easy to find jobs for those players. However, players, like myself, are a bit hungrier once we get our oppourtunity and that’s what I’ve set out to prove.
You played the last two seasons in the ABA and TBL. What kind of experience was that and do you feel like your game could grow?
Jeremy: The TBL was a pro league, and ran nationally. Since COVID shut down most of travel, the TBL had ex-NBA, G-League and former overseas MVPs that I got to play against nightly. I was able to see the role I might take in a G-League, or a larger market and where I could take my opportunities to thrive. The ABA was a great semi-pro league because it allowed me to work on my game against the best players in my area that either didn’t make it to school or were past their time.
Talk a little about the ABA. Is that the strongest semi-pro league? The competition level and drive of players must be huge. So many guys wanting to prove themselves.
Jeremy: The ABA is definitely pretty challenging due to the physicality. The talent may not be as high, but players have just as much passion and don’t like to see others scoring over and over. I took some of my hardest hits in ABA games.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 198cm forward. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the bill? Jeremy:
Offensively, I really modeled myself a lot after Carmelo Anthony or Tobias Harris, guys that can score at every level but loves to post up on smaller forwards.
You proved at the college and pro level that you can score and rebound. What other strengths do you have?
Jeremy: I pride myself on guarding the best player defensively, something that Chicago taught me. I also have a very high IQ, being in the right spots in the right time on both ends and using my ball handling to make guys better.
On what area’s of your game are you currently working on so that you can continue to get better as a player?
Jeremy: Definitely ball handling, once you can handle the ball without thinking it opens the game up in so many ways.
Please describe in a few words why you could help any professional team right now?
Jeremy: I’m a scrappy, high energy, high IQ guys who plays to win on every single possession. I’m willing to make mistakes but I’m eager to learn and more than anything I love the game.
You played at North Central College (NCAA3) from 2014-2016, but played only 22 games. Talk a little about this time. Did you suffer immense growing pains?
Jeremy : Yes of course. I played behind 4 All-Conference forwards in my two years there. It is where I developed a mental toughness and really defined my game in order to compete with those guys every practice.
You then finished at Elmhurst College (NCAA3) and played 51 games. You put up huge stats with 14/8 and 14/6 stats. How do you feel did your game grow in these two years?
Jeremy: The one year I sat out I really learned how to carry a team. I went thru some growing pains again once I started to see double teams but I figured out how to close games as the best player by the time that I was done.
You had many great games at Elmhurst College (NCAA3). What was your fondest moment there in your two years?
Jeremy: Elmhurst was in the same conference as North Central College. The first game we played them, we were down big early, we came back in the 2nd half and dominated the rest of the game. Near the end, when I went to the free-throw line, the fans were chanting, “Thanks for Jeremy. clap-clap”. I ended with 21 points as well.
How did head coach John Baines groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
Jeremy: Coach Baines was a great leader and he always had a sense of peace that I admired. He was always calm in the storm, and it because of his preparation. He was always thinking about the next move because he thought about the next move before it even happened. He also allowed me to lead as fire to his ice.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Lavon Thomas?
Jeremy: Lavon is a great friend of mine, we actually played against each other in high school as well. At that time, I had Lavon’s number about 3/4th of the time, but whenever he would score a couple I would definitely hear about it. Lavon has improved a ton since then I’m excited to see where he ends up.
Who was the best player that you ever faced that reached the NBA?
Jeremy: Roscoe Smith I played against him in the TBL and he had such a complete game he was a really tough guard.
Please name your five best teammates of all-time?Jeremy: Scott Lindsey, Mike Smith, Jake Rhode, Alex Sorenson, Greg Carter
Please name your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads.
Jeremy: Dwyane Wade, Damien Lillard, LeBron James, Michael Jordan
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
Jeremy: I’m taking Michael because that mid range was too smooth. Then he would just dunk on you once you take that away.
What was the last movie you saw? Jeremy:
The Forever Purge. I’ll give it a B+
Thanks Jeremy for the chat.