From College to NBA: Jessup putting in the work and working hard

AFTER an impressive and breakout first season in the National Basketball League season, Rookie Me Central took the opportunity to get to know and catch up with Illawarra Hawks rising star, Justinian Jessup. Previously playing College basketball and attending Boise State Uni from 2016-2020, and after a shining debut season last season, Jessup is ready to put in the work to help the Hawks in his second season and help the Hawks into another post-season finals appearance.

 Jessup shared his enjoyment playing back with the team in his second season and the satisfaction with the start to the season so far.

“Playing in front of the Hawks fans again, It’s been good” he said. “We’ve only had one home game so far but we’ve got a stretch of them coming up, I’m excited to get in front of the fans, I’m sure they’re pretty eager as well. “We’ve had a good start to the season, it’s been good being back in Wollongong in my second year and being in this community. “Like I said, looking forward to getting back in front of the fans more and more.”


After re-signing to the Hawks roster, Jessup opened up and shared his thoughts what it meant to be a part of the Next Stars program again, the opportunity to be coached by Brian Goorjian, and what it means to be coached by a legend in the making and the learnings he has taken from him.

“The NBL’s been really good, especially this year adding an import to each team makes the league a lot more competitive which is great and there’s a lot of good teams,” Jessup said. “Playing in Australia during the summer is always fun as well. “It’s been a good experience for me so far.

“Being coached by Brian Goorjian, it’s been great. “He’s got a lot of experience and coached a lot of good players so he knows what he’s doing. “He’s really honest and open with his communication which I appreciate that. “He’s been honest hard lately pushing us to get better and playing for him the last year and a half or so has been really good for me.”


After starting the season strongly, with the Hawks not playing for quite some time, Jessup shared the toughness it has been not getting on the court. With the fixture changing multiple times due to teams having COVID-19 cases, he gave an insight into how the team have prepared in the lead-up to this weekend’s match.

“Our team just got out of a long time of self-isolation,” Jessup said. “We had some COVID issues but now we’re out of that so that’s good. “The weather’s been great here in Wollongong, been enjoying the beach, things are good. “We had our first kind of real practice today (on Tuesday) so that was good to get up and down the floor again. “Being cooped up for 10 days is no fun, glad to be out of there.

“It’s been really tough.” I felt like we some momentum and making some adjustments to how we were playing. “That was chopped up with the COVID stuff. We have time to peak back on those, we don’t play till Sunday. “We’re going to continue to improve this week, go out there and take a step forward.”

“It’s tough to stay connected and keep in touch as a group. “We would have zoom workouts online every day after Christmas. “It’s tough but we have a good group of guys and I think we’re all committed to being the best team we can be which makes things a lot easier going forward.

“In terms of the groups satisfaction with the start to the season, I don’t think we’re satisfied at all. “Having some time to think, obviously not being on the court for 10 days, I think we all came to came to consensus that we’re not playing near as good as we can. “We’ve got to play a lot more together, a lot tougher and it’s going to be an emphasise to come out of isolation and these next few practices in the next coming days. “We’re not very happy, we are not 1-3 instead of 3-1 but we have a long way to go and we’re working hard towards that.”

Jessup also reflected on how he stayed prepared during the season and the strategies he uses on and off the court during the postponements.

“When we’re not in lockdown, everybody has their own routine, I think that really helps, you get prepared in the right state of mind. You have a pre-practise routine, pre-game routine etc. “That’s the best way prepare, building on those habits each and every day. “Stay consistent with whatever COVID hits. Stay process-oriented. Stay consistent with your habits.

“Sometimes if I don’t calm down, I start to get mad. “To put into perspective, I tell myself to move onto the next play. “What’s happened has happened and you can’t change it. “It’s about giving your best effort, put your best foot forward and just keep going, don’t lose the effort piece of it.”


With Jessup having an incredible basketball journey to date, showing leagues such as the NBA of what he can do, he shared his highlights on his College basketball journey, reflecting on his time at the NBA Summer League and how the National Basketball League has helped him as a player.

“Playing and attending Boise State Uni, there’s a lot of highlights,” he said. “Playing College basketball was pretty fun. “The atmosphere can be pretty great, playing on the road and playing in big games. “The atmosphere and the fans are really passionate about basketball in the States. “My four years there, it was fun. “I love Boise as a city and I had great coaches and teammates. “It was a good overall experience for me.

“The Summer League was the only time I played with the Worriers and that was a real experience year for me. Just coming out of playing my first NBL season, first professional season. “Getting to see a high level of competition in such a short amount of time was good. “It was good being exposed to that environment and taught me a lot of lessons. It was a good month or so of experience playing with them.

“In terms on getting called by Golden State Warriors soon, that will be sweet. “I have no idea. “That’s up to them.”

Since coming into the National Basketball League sharing how the league has helped his game as a player.

“It’s a pretty physical league, that’s been good for me, learning to play with the physicality,” Jessup said. “Adding another import helps things on the defensive side so I have to guard pretty good players, which is obviously good. “It’s about being challenged. “I think when you’re challenged, each and every night on the floor, that’s a good thing, it’s good growth as a player. “I think that’s the way the NBL is helping me. “Having three imports raises the level of the competition for sure.”

Lastly, Jessup shared what inspires him to be better and advice he would share to younger and upcoming ballers and want to improve their game.

“I think the players that play at the highest level and getting to the highest level is what inspires me,” Jessup said. “I’m trying to become the best player I can, that’s kind of what I’ve always been about and seeing how far I can go, not necessarily having a certain goal or destination. “For me it’s about, putting In the work everyday and trying to become the best player I can be and pursing that each day. That’s where I draw my inspiration every day.”

“Get in the gym, put the reps up, that’s the best way to improve and practice. That’s how it works. I would encourage younger players to get in the gym and play as much as you can. Get out there and play  as much as you can and practice as much as you can if you want to be good.”

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