Before joining his new team in Canada to play in NBL, american guard Jahii Carson talked with us about his path, basketball career and expectations overseas.
Can you introduce yourself ?
Jahii Carson from Phoenix, Arizona. I am 24 years old.
How can you describe your game ?
My style of play is an uptempo style of game. I like to get out in transition. Get easy shots for my teammates and for myself while putting a lot of pressure on the defense. I’m a scoring guard who also runs the traditional point guard position. I’m very athletic and explosive which is a strength of mine
You played 2 years in NCAA D1 and you was dominating a lot with Arizona State, which is a big university and has one of the best basketball college team in the USA. How is life there ? Is that hard to be a top athlete and also a student in the same time ?
Yes I had a very successful career at Arizona state. I received freshman of the year in my conference, first team all conference both my freshman and sophomore season, while Also being named to the freshman all American team. My college life was very good. I enjoyed being a student athlete. It taught me how to manage my time. With me being a top athlete at my university sometimes it was hard to manage all the attention I was receiving on campus after games and during my classes but with me being from Phoenix and me attending a local university my family was able to spend time with me and keep me level headed.
Did you had any other scholarship offer ?
Coming out of high school I was a top 30 high school basketball recruit, so I had offers from almost every college in the nation. I chose Arizona state university because I had a great relationship with the coaching staff and they promised that they would allow me freedom to play my style of game and help me display my talents on the court.
Before attending Arizona State, you played for Team USA U19 in 2011. How was this world basketball championship ? What about the experience playing FIBA rules and playing versus international teams ? That is so different from american basketball style of play ?
Yes I played with the USA u19 team while I was only 18. I was the youngest player on the team and that was a huge blessing and honor and a highlight of my basketball career. The world championship was amazing, having an opportunity as a high school kid to play with the nations best players was great. The international competition was really good. All the teams we had play against had future NBA players at the time who are now in the NBA now. It was hard to adjust because the international players played with so much passion and hunger and honor. Their style of played was hard for us to keep up with but it taught me a lot about the fundamentals of the game.
In 2014, you participated at the NBA draft combine in Chicago. How was the experience during this few days ?
The NBA draft combine was amazing. It was a blessing to get an opportunity to display my talents in front of all the NBA general managers and scouts.
Did you had any others pre-draft workouts with NBA teams ?
Yes I worked out for 22 NBA teams right after the combine up until the NBA draft.
How did you lived the NBA draft night ?
NBA draft night was rough. The anxiety was high. I had no clue what team I was going to or if I was even going to get drafted and if I didn’t get drafted what was my next move. Overall it was a great experience and not to many people can say they have been in that position, for sure a blessing.
Later, after not being selected during the draft, did you made any tryouts for a D-League or NBA team?
After my first year pro I was also invited to training camp with the Oklahoma City thunder. I was waived after the first month of training camp.
So you had an opportunity to play pro basketball overseas. Is that a hard decision to take ?
Playing professional overseas wasn’t a hard decision to make. I love the game of basketball and Europe and other continents have a lot of countries that are really competitive and take pride in their basketball play. So I knew I would be getting some of the best basketball the world has to offer outside of the states.
Why did you chose Australia to start your career ?
I chose to play in Australia because they are very similar to us Americans. They speak English as well. I also had an opportunity to make a lot of money my first year and felt that was the best decision for my career. Australia helped me a lot, their league is really competitive and they have a lot of American and Australia talent.
Then, you played in Turkey D2. What are the main differences between playing in Australia and Turkey (Europe) ?
The main differences from playing in Australia and then difference where the style of play. Australia plays very much like us Americans. Turkey and their Turkish players have a totally different style of play. Very strategic with their preparation and skill development. Great experience for me playing in both places.
Would you like to be back in Europe in the next few years ?
I would love to play in Europe again. I would love to even play in Europe right after the Canadian season is over. I feel Europe has some of the best basketball in the world and I would enjoying competing against some of the best European players.
What are countries overseas you will like to discover playing pro ball ?
I would really love to go back to Turkey and play again. I would love to play in France, Spain, Greece, Croatia, Russia, Germany. Many more countries I would love to play in and live as well but those countries have been on my list ever since I was a little kid.
When you was named in the first team All-Pac-12 Conference, three american players which played pro in France were also in this first team : Larry Drew II, Justin Cobbs and Mark Lyons. Did you played against them ?
Yes I played against all three of those players twice when I was in college. They where seniors while I was a freshman.
Next week, you will start your 2016/2017 season in Canada, NBL. What are you expectations there ?
My expectations are to dominated both ends of the floor, both offensively and defensively. I want to make a huge statement and let my talent show a lot. I’ve very confident in my abilities on the court. Hopefully I can lead my team to winning the NBL championship. I have high hopes that my team will win.
And what are you expectations for you career ?
My main expectations for my career are just to keep getting better. Keep working on my game and getting better everyday. I want to put myself in a position where I can play in euroleague or the NBA. I want to compete and win at the highest level.
D-League will considerably increase salaries next season. Do you think this will be a more attractive option for players which are currently playing pro abroad?
I did hear that the dleague is increasing their salaries. That might be more attractive overall for American players who are afraid of leaving the states but for players who have experienced being overseas I think it might not have that big of an impact for guys who have experienced it.
What is your biggest dream in basketball ?
My biggest dream for my career is to play in the NBA. I would love to play in the NBA that has always been my dream.
You said « play in the NBA ». But playing for Phoenix Suns would be the graal ?
Playing in the NBA for any team would be a dream. Of course me being from Phoenix I would love to play for the Phoenix Suns but my eyes aren’t just set for playing for them. If any team shows interested and feels I’m valuable to their roster, I would of course make the proper steps to be prepared.
To conclude, what was your best basketball experience in your life ?
My best basketball experience was getting to play in the world championships with the U19 USA team. It was just an honor to represent my country and play against players who where representing theirs. Huge for me.