Philly Front Office

PFO Exclusive: Interview with Blue Coats G League draft pick Jordan Downing on his “unexpected” day

With the third pick in round three of the 2018 NBA G League draft, the Delaware Blue Coats selected Jordan Downing. “I’m blessed,” Downing told Philly Front Office. Like new Interim General Manager Matt Lilly and Head Coach Connor Johnson, this will be Downing’s first year in Delaware, but he’s no stranger to the G League.

After spending 12 games with the Texas Legends last season, the minor league affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks, Downing woke up this morning expecting to report to their training camp.

“To be honest, it was kind of unexpected,” Downing told us in a phone interview. “I was getting my haircut when I found out.”

In 2017-18, Downing played a total of 32 games in the G League; 20 with the Westchester Knicks and 12 with the aforementioned Legends. He averaged 5.3 points in 10.9 minutes of action on 42.9 percent from three. In 2015-16, he also played 10 games for the Bakersfield Jam, now known as the Northern Arizona Suns, affiliate of the Phoenix Suns.

“It’s kind of funny. I was expecting to be on their [The Texas Legends’] training camp roster. I actually found out this morning that my name was in the draft. It’s kind of crazy, and it kind of threw me off. I am happy, and I’m blessed to start this new journey.”

In 2010-11, Downing spent his freshman year at Davidson before transferring to Presbyterian for his next three seasons. At Presbyterian, he averaged 16.7 points over that three-year span, which ranks towards the top in Big South Conference history.

At Davidson, his freshman year of college started in the gym, where he happened to find himself playing pickup with former Wildcat, Steph Curry.

“I think he [Steph Curry] just raised the bar,” Downing said, in reference Curry’s impact at Davidson. “He’s one of those guys that gave a lot of mid-majors a lot of respect.”

Downing, a Hopewell High School graduate, grew up in Huntersville, North Carolina. He’s 6’5″ and weighs 205 pounds. He said watching Curry put in the work, at his size, had a massive impact on him as a basketball player.

“During my freshman year, he would play pickup with us, get up and down, and it was good for me to watch that and learn that,” Downing said. “He was an inspiration for me to go to that school. To watch a little, teeny kid be able to be fearless and probe against bigger guys and just be confident – no matter what anybody says about you.”

Curry, an NBA superstar for the Golden State Warriors, was an inspiration then, and he still is to this day. Downing’s main goal is to get called up and play against Curry.

“Wherever a 10-day comes from, it’s always a blessing for me,” he explained. “My goal has always been consistent – to be the best basketball player that I can become. My goal is to be in the NBA and to get that NBA 10-day contract. My goal is to get that call-up.”

When asked who he models his game after on the Philadelphia 76ers, Downing told us he enjoys watching Ben Simmons the most, because of his unselfishness, but he has learned the most from watching JJ Redick.

“I was a big Duke fan growing up,” he said. “I used to love watching JJ Redick play in college. I watch a lot of personal film on him when I get a chance; how he comes off screens, how he reads screens, and how serious he takes his workouts. I try to emulate him.”

This morning, Downing had no clue he’d be draft eligible. This afternoon, he received a phone call from Delaware Blue Coats Assistant Coach Kelly Peters. Ironically, Peters was an assistant coach with the Texas Legends last year, the team Downing thought he was reporting to this fall.

Per the Blue Coats press release, Downing averaged 26 points per game for AS Soleuvre (Luxembourg) and 18 points per game for BC Winterthur (Switzerland) from 2015 to 2017. He told Philly Front Office that his journey has been all over the place (literally), and he hopes his “three-and-D” style finally gets him the call to the NBA.

The Blue Coats also selected Marcus Marshall with the 23rd pick of the first round, Kameron Rooks in the fourth round at pick nine, and then traded the ninth-overall pick, Hakim Warrick (along with James Webb III) to the Iowa Wolves for Michael Bryson.

Brian Jacobs

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