The Mariners’ men’s basketball team is led on the court by fifth-year guard Brandon Jones. Jones played an integral part in the Mariners’ national championship win on home court last season. This season, Jones has been a force for the Mariners on the court. He is ranked in the top three in the PacWest in both points per game and assists per game. Jones took some time to sit down with The Navigator and discuss his final season as a member of the Mariners and what it was like growing up in a basketball-crazy city like Portland, Oregon.
Navigator: How many years have you been a Mariner?
Brandon Jones: I’ve been a student at VIU and a Mariner for three years.
N: Did you play basketball anywhere before VIU?
BJ: I played at Clark College in Washington State. It’s a community college there.
N: You’re a senior this year. Has that forced you to take on more of a leadership role?
BJ: Yeah, definitely. Last year, there was only one senior on the team, so a lot of fourth-year guys stepped up. But when it’s your fifth and last year, everybody looks up to you. You have to make sure that you’re a role model on and off the court for the younger players.
N: Are you graduating this year, and what’s your degree?
BJ: Yeah. I’m in Recreation and Sports Management.
N: How old were you when you first played basketball?
BJ: I was probably five or six years old.
N: Do you remember when you fell in love with the game?
BJ: Probably when I was 11 or 12. I grew up in Portland and tried to go to every Trailblazer game that I could. Everybody always wanted to go to the waterpark, and I just wanted to go down to the park and play ball.
N: Do you find the basketball culture different here?
BJ: Yeah, I think it’s different country-wise. When you play sports as a kid, you’re taught to be part of a team, to be a brotherhood, and that there’s only one team goal. But in the NBA there’s a lot of focus on one-on-one basketball, so naturally you become an individual player. Here, it’s all about the team aspect. It really doesn’t matter who gets the fame, as long as you get the win. I feel like that’s how it’s supposed to be, but with so many Americans watching the NBA, people see the one-on-one battles and the individual stats and that’s what they want.
N: What’s the highlight of your career to this point?
BJ: Winning the national title last year. That was the first time I’ve ever won anything big in my career, so it was kind of a dream come true.
N: Do you have time for any non-basketball related hobbies?
BJ: Yeah, I try to do other things. If you just stick to basketball all the time, you’ll go crazy, ‘cause sometimes you have a bad day and you need to make sure you can get away from it. I’m a bit of a gamer, but only here. I never play when I’m back home.
N: What are you going to do after graduation?
BJ: I’m going to go home and try to get a job somewhere with basketball. I feel like I’m done playing, but I don’t want to just give up on basketball all together so anywhere I could get involved in basketball would be really cool.