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Jordan Grant: A standout player

Sheridan Bruins star Jordan Grant discusses basketball, who he is on and off the court and what’s next in his journey.

Jordan grant locked in during sheridan bruins vs centennial colts game
Jordan grant locked in during sheridan bruins vs centennial colts game

From as far back as he can remember, Jordan Grant has been playing basketball. Under the coaching of legendary coach Jim Flack, Jordan currently plays for the Sheridan Bruins where his defensive and leadership skills along with his ability to remain focused and teachable has made him a standout player on the team. I caught up with Jordan to discuss basketball, who he is off the court, and what’s next for him.

Tell me about yourself?

I’m 28, which is a lot older then most college sports athletes. I’ve been playing since I was around five or six years old. I grew up in a French school system. French is also my first language which is something that most people don’t know about me.

I came to Sheridan initially in 2016 and graduated with a two-year diploma. At this point, I was not thinking about playing for the basketball team and I needed a refresh on what I initially did out of high school which was go to the University of Ottawa.

After graduating in 2018, I worked for a little bit and then obviously COVID happened. I realized I wanted to be an elementary school teacher, and for that I needed a degree. I already had a diploma from Sheridan and came back in 2021 and said if I’m going to be here, I might as well play basketball, and that’s how it all started.

Jordan grant locked in on the court
Jordan Grant locked in on the court

When did you discover your love for basketball?

It’s hard to even pinpoint that, because I feel like we don’t really remember as kids exactly when. I think I would say at around nine years old. The first time I said “I really want to play basketball” is when I saw Vince Carter playing for the Raptors. I fell in love with the game seeing that.

None of my parents played basketball, they put my brother and I in almost every sport and basketball was the one that stuck the most for me. Baseball was actually always my favourite sport, but I think what made me choose basketball was the friends that I had on the basketball team, were closer than the friends I had on the baseball and soccer teams, which pushed me more towards basketball.

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What has it been like playing for Sheridan?

It has been a pretty cool experience. When I first went to Sheridan in 2016, basketball wasn’t even on my radar, I was fully focused on school. It was only after when I went back in 2021 that I decided to play.

Because of COVID, when the season got cancelled, it was a complete refresh. The way the team was formed was basically from a tryout. There were two guys who played on the team two years prior and everyone else was at an open tryout just to see if they could play.

In my first year, I got minutes, but I was not one of the main players on the team, I was kind of a bench player, a role player. In my second year, I started playing a bit more, coach Flack had a lot more confidence in me because in my first year, I was making a lot more mistakes than I should have been making.

Last year, we didn’t get the results we wanted as a team, but it was the first year playing at Sheridan that I really felt like most of our team understood the culture and were playing for Sheridan and not for themselves, and to me when it comes to basketball, that’s the number one thing. A lot of players play more for themselves and just want good stats, instead of actually having their team win.

Dawn Staley the coach of South Carolina’s women’s basketball team said “If you want to be a player in college that everyone knows that gets a lot of points, and has good stats, that everyone wants to recruit and is going to go high in the drafts, then South Carolina is not the team to be on. But if you want to win a championship, then go to South Carolina” It made me think that, that’s very similar to how coach Flack sees basketball.

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The Bruins are not a team that has one guy averaging 28 points, where there is a star with one guy doing everything, it really is an all around team effort and there is way more culture to Sheridan then I think I’ve had playing for any other team. My path at Sheridan has been a lot of fun playing basketball.

The Sheridan Bruins four coaches – Coach Flack, Nicky, Leroy and Dave make up the greatest coaching staff that I have ever played for.

How do you juggle being a student athlete?

That’s tough. I think a lot of it has to do with organization. For a lot of students in general, it’s easy to forget about an assignment or due date and fall behind, and then you’re trying to catch up which makes it even tougher. As an athlete it’s worse because there are practices every single day. During the peek season you might have two games a week for two or three weeks straight and you have to travel a lot.

I’m a bit of a veteran now compared to the younger guys, so something that I always remind them and it helps me as well, is that when you start a semester it’s good to introduce yourself to your professors and let them know you are a student athlete.

I do not mean this in the way of “I play for the basketball team and I want extra privileges” It’s letting them know as it’s helpful when you have assignments and you can see already with your schedule that it will be tough to complete on time or you may be missing a test.

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If you let them know weeks in advance, I’ve never come across a professor that wasn’t understanding of it. I think staying ahead and being organized, trying to focus on finishing assignments earlier so you don’t have to worry about them and can focus on basketball is one of the main things.

Coach Flack has called you one of the top five defenders. How does that make you feel, and would you agree this is one of your strengths?

Coming from Coach Flack who is probably the most respected coach in Ontario Collegiate Athletic Association (OCAA) basketball, it feels good to know that your coach feels that of you and supports you in that. Ever since I can remember playing basketball, I have always had a defensive mindset. It’s always been focus and put all your effort into your defence.

On offence, the shots will fall, they’ll come and you’ll be able to create for other people and get them open shots. In the locker room, we always talk about how there are certain things that are not really controllable, and then there are certain things that are. For example, with your shooting, you may have an off night where you might be missing your shots, and you don’t have the greatest offensive game.

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When it comes to defence, it’s almost 100% effort, so you can’t use the excuse of “I had an off defensive night” because that just means that you were not trying. The things that we can control, we should put 100% effort into them, and the things that we can’t, that’s why we go to practice to work on our shots, that’s why we run plays and we practice plays to make sure that offensively we have outlets if people’s shots are not falling we can get open layups.

Another thing is that defence always leads to way easier baskets, so the better the team plays defensively, chances are the better they will play offensively. For me, defence has always been the thing that I take the most pride in when it comes to basketball.

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Coach flack comments on jordan grant's defensive skills
Legendary Coach Flack comments on Jordan Grant’s defensive skills

How do you feel about your performance this season?

I think it was ok. I think defensively, I did really well. It’s hard thinking about my performance when I know that as a team we didn’t accomplish what we wanted. I feel like the only way I could have been proud of my performance and think I did really well is if we had actually won the championship.

Looking past that, defensively I did pretty well and offensively, my shot was falling pretty much all year which was nice. As far as percentages, we try and have over 45-50% field goal percentage and then over 35% to over 40% from three-points. I think I was around 40% during the year. As I said, Sheridan is not really a program that’s going to have one guy averaging 25 points per game. I usually do not take many shots, on average I took around nine shots per game.

Something that I will say I was proud of was the turnover numbers. As a team we always talk about how important not getting turnovers is and in my first few seasons, it was definitely something I could have improved on. This season I think I actually led the entire OCAA in assist to turnover ratio. I think with how low my turnover numbers were, with the amount of minutes I played, I was able to finish at the top for that, and that’s something that I’m pretty proud of.

How do you handle criticism from teammates and coaches?

This is also something that I think is a good quality I have when it comes to basketball. Growing up, one of the coaches that I had, his name was Earl Moncrieffe. He was one of the toughest coaches. We were 8-10 year old’s and if you made a mistake and did not get back on defence, he would yell at you and bench you for the rest of the game and we were just kids. I also remember thinking I love that he was like that because it made taking criticism super easy. People might think that’s a pretty intense way of coaching kids, but personally, I owe my entire basketball career to Earl. Without a coach like that, I don’t know where I’d be in terms of basketball. He made me into the player that I am today.

There are some guys that you can’t yell at because they’ll get down or they’ll be sad about it. I’ve learned to really pay attention to what the person is saying rather than how they’re saying it because I know that when you’re passionate about something, instead of telling someone something, you might be yelling it at them and if you’re trying to get your point across, and all they’re focused on is the fact that you’re yelling, instead of trying to listen to the words that they’re saying then it becomes pretty ineffective.

For me, I know that there are improvements that I can make, I know I’m not a perfect basketball player, I know I make mistakes and that I can get better in a lot of areas, so criticism for me is always welcome and I appreciate when I receive it. Another thing in practice that we always talk about is if the coaches are yelling at guys, it’s a good sign because it means that they want that person to get better, and they’re showing them that they’re passionate about helping that person get better.

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They always say you shouldn’t be worried if we’re always yelling at you, once we stop yelling, that’s when you should be worried because it means we gave up. I handle criticism pretty well, because I always understand that there’s a lot to improve.

How important is it to have trust within a team?

I would say this is one of the most important aspects within a team. If you’re focusing on or looking at things outside of playing basketball, trust is the most important thing.

For someone like me who is really focused on defence I think the way that we play defence, involves a lot of trusting your teammates. As an initial defender on the ball, we’ll be forcing the guy that you’re guarding to do certain things and to go towards certain parts of your defence because you trust that your teammate is going to be there in the right spot and I think that if you have trust in your teammates, it makes it a lot easier to play because everyone is on the same page.

It makes things flow a lot better. If you don’t trust someone on the court, you might play differently. On offence for example, if my teammate doesn’t trust me, they might not pass me the ball if I’m open and that whole sequence might just ruin that whole play because a teammate does not trust me.

I always, as the leader of the team, always remind guys that we have your back. if I pass someone the ball and they shoot and miss, and if I pass them the ball again and they shoot and miss again, the third time if he’s open, I’m not going to choose to not pass it to him. I still want him to know that I trust him, so I’ll pass him the ball and if he misses, I’ll tell him keep shooting. You can have an off night shooting.

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This is where defence is a lot more important in my opinion, because if someone keeps missing, I’m still going to tell them to keep shooting, but it’s not like “oh you’re missing your shoots, ok, don’t play defence” I also get back on defence too and that’s something that I also try and remind the guys to do.

I think they trust me a lot, and they understand that my main focus is winning, and stats are not that important for me. Having trust from the top moving down, is very important.

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Jordan grant making the layup at a sheridan bruins game
Jordan Grant making the layup at a Sheridan Bruins game

With college basketball there can be school rivalries. Can this act as motivation for you?

There still is the Sheridan vs Humber College rivalry. I remember coming to Sheridan in 2016 and at that point I had friends that were playing on the team, so I would come watch some of the games and it was crazy seeing the difference between how many people attend games when it was Sheridan against Humber and this was around eight years ago, so to think that it’s still a crazy rivalry, it’s pretty cool to see. I think it’s healthy to have competition like that.

At the end of the day, we’re living in a first world country, we have our health. A lot of us are pretty close to our families and we have our friends. We’re just playing basketball, it’s just a sport, we want to have fun. You might be messaging each other before the game and trash talking and then you see them at the game and it’s fun playing against them.

When you’re on the court, you’re so locked in that you’re not friends and then after the game, you congratulate each other and then you’re talking again so it’s pretty fun. Those rivalry games just makes things a lot more interesting and it brings a lot more people out to the games too, and I hope when people watch those games, they’re entertained.

If you could play for any team, which team would you choose?

That’s tough. Now I have to factor in where I would be living if I played for that team [laughs]. I think it’s a toss up between the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers. I think it’s really the Knicks, the only reason why I put in Lakers is because it would be nice to live in California [laughs].

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As a basketball fan, Madison Square Garden is the ultimate dream. Just playing on that court would probably be the most surreal experience. I think the New York Knicks would be the number one team I would choose to play for if I could play on any team.

As an athlete, sometimes your identity can get lost in basketball. What would you like people to know about Jordan, the person outside of basketball?

For me, something that I would want people to know and remember about me is that I’m a good leader with good leadership skills.

During COVID I ended up working at an elementary school. My aunt was the secretary at the school and they needed help during lunch and recess as well as help with supervising the kids and it turned into me starting to do some supplying teaching. It then went from me doing supply teaching to one of the teachers having to go on a leave, and I filled his role as a teacher. I ended up teaching a full classroom of kids for almost a month straight.

During this time is when I realized that I really want to be an elementary school teacher. Most people that know me, but are not close to me have no idea that this is what I want to do as my career, but I’ve always loved working with kids and I think that people don’t realize how important the first part of a kids life is when it comes to school, so I want to be able to use my leadership skills to help kids do better in the classroom as well as be better people in general.

What is your favourite basketball sneaker?

I strictly wear Kobe 4’s and 5’s to play. I guess I would say the Kobe 4 sneaker is my favourite one to play in. The Kobe 5 is very similar, they’re basically the same, so I would go with these two.

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The issue with this is the prices of Kobe’s shoes are unbelievable [laughs]. I’m still able to get some close to the retail price, so if I can do that, I’ll do that, but because of the fact that they’re just so expensive for no reason [laughs] I found that the Sabrina 1’s are great.

She was extremely close to Kobe and just based off the way that the shoe is, she must have worked with him or worked with people from his team to design her shoe because I used her shoe for the past season and it was unbelievable. The functionality of it felt exactly like a Kobe 4 or 5. I would say although a Kobe 4 and 5 are my favourite sneakers to wear when playing, I think for my last season of playing, I’ll be wearing the Sabrina 1’s.

What is most important to you?

My family. My mom, dad, brother and sister have supported me my entire life playing sports, specifically basketball. My parents were at every single practice and game I had when I was younger and they always pushed me to be my very best.

My friends – Carlos, John, Rafael, Mark, Theo, Charles, Kiro and I are extremely close. I think apart from my family and God, they are the most important parts of my life

Jordan and his closest friends
Jordan and his closest friends during their annual Secret Santa gift exchange

What is next for you?

Honestly, I thought about if I want to play professional and go down that route, and I think maybe had it been five years ago or something I would consider it a lot more, but now after one game, my knees are hurting, my back is hurting [laughs] and I’m sore and I’m thinking, would I even be able to keep this up on a professional level.

With the CEBL allowing OCAA players in the draft now and having more visibility, I guess we’ll see what ends up happening through that standpoint. I’m just focused on finishing at Sheridan, getting into Teacher’s College and starting my career as an elementary school teacher.

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I think for me that’s definitely the end goal and where I see myself being in the future. I’m getting old, so I want to do things as quickly as possible, but also still enjoy possibly the last year of basketball that I have left playing at a high level. I just want to really focus on my career and be the best elementary school teacher that I can be. That is what I see for myself in the future.

Jordan Grant takes pride in whatever he does, He is sure of himself and what he wants to do while still taking the time to stop and enjoy life and really cherish those around him and what’s really important. His qualities both on and off the court will continue to help him succeed in whatever he sets his mind to.

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