THE National Basketball League (NBL) has announced itself as a successful pathway for young basketball talents to take their journey to the next level. With quality talent spread across the league making for a tough competition, many young players see this as an opportunity to prove their worth against a more experienced league than the NCAA or other similar leagues.
The NBL has even developed a Next Star program, where the brightest young talents from around the globe are recognized and given the proper training and facilities to assist their development. In the past, this program has delivered international stars such as Lamelo Ball, RJ Hampton and Joshua Giddey.
Thanks to the success of these players, the door has been opened for even more of the world’s most exciting youngsters to join the program, before potentially joining the NBA in the future.
One of the players taking advantage of the Next Stars program is Justinian Jessup, who will be suiting up for the Illawarra Hawks for yet another season, despite being picked in this year’s NBA Draft. Jessup has proven himself as one of the league’s premier young talent’s over recent seasons, and will be using NBL22 as an opportunity to further his development before he joins the Golden State Warriors.
Jessup was born in Longmont, Colarado in the United States of America, where he spent his early years developing a love for the sport of basketball, which included many hours in the gym working on his craft. With the sport growing in popularity every day, the goal of making the NBA becomes more difficult, so this hard work is an indicator of where he ended up.
Playing his junior career with Longmont High School, Jessup was clearly a step above his peers, leading the team in every major statistical category, and was announced as the Colarado 4A Player of the Year among other impressive awards. His senior year saw him produce similar numbers, and following this, he signed a contract with Boise State to begin his college career.
Upon joining the Broncos, it was evident that Jessup was one of the top prospects coming out of the score, even from his debut year. Throughout his time on the team, he developed from impressive prospect to record breaker, setting the conference record for most three-pointers in his college career. With the NBA becoming a three-point game, this is a handy area to excel in.
Following his successful stint with Boise State, Jessup opted to take his talents down under, signing a contract with the Illawarra Hawks of the NBL as a part of the Next Stars program in 2020. In his first season with the side, the guard was a crucial part of the Hawks’ offense, given the team lost Ball in the previous offseason. Come season’s end, Jessup finished with averages of 13.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game, becoming recognized as one of the league’s most impressive youngsters.
His basketball journey continued further upwards, when he was selected by the Golden State Warriors with the 51st pick in the most recent NBA Draft. He impressed during his initial time with the team, taking full advantage of the starting lineup position he was given in the Summer League to average over 14 points per game, in a showing that would have pleased Warriors’ coaches.
He will return to the NBL for the final year of his Next Stars contract with the Hawks, and with the chance to develop his game even further, Jessup looks set to produce his strongest season to date.