Jazz Johnson, point guard born in 1996, talked about his univerisity career and his relationships with the city, fans and Pistoia organization in an exclusive interview with BasketInside. Jazz started to play basketball in the Portland Pilots university from 2015 to 2017, in 2018 he played with Nevada Wolf Pack until 2020. The following year he started his professional career in Italy with Cantù, in Summer 2021 he signed with Pistoia Basket.
1)Hi Jazz, first of all thanks for your time. When did you start playing basketball? And why did you chose it?
“I started playing from as young as I can remember. My dad was a very good player and always had a love for basketball, so I guess he passed that love to me. I chose basketball because it was the game I really loved. My entire life was basketball and I knew from a young age I wanted to play. It was always a dream for me to make my dad proud and become the player he was supposed to be. Unfortunately his life didn’t allow him to become a professional but he had the talent and skills. I wanted to make him happy and become what he’s always dreamt of me being”
2) Can you tell me something about your university career?
“My university career taught me a lot. I had the blessing of playing for many coaches. Also playing at two different universities helped me grow as a person. All the coaches, teammates and people I met in my 5 years of college has been a blessing. They all have helped me learn and mature over the years.”
3)In Summer 2020, you signed in Italy with Cantù in A1. What environment did you find in Cantù? What memories do you have about the first experience in Italy?
“The year in Cantu was a great experience. This was another year that taught me so much about not only basketball but life. It was a very hard year for everyone. With Covid and all the restrictions, it was hard to focus only on basketball. It was hard having to sit in my apartment everyday with nothing to do. However, last year taught me how much I love basketball. I feel if I was able to make it through that year, I can make it through anything else in my basketball career.”
4) Then you choose Pistoia, in A2. What do you expect from this season as personally as a team?
“I feel Pistoia is the perfect place for my career right now. Coach Brienza is a great coach and comes from A1 just like me. We both share a common passion to want to be back in A1. I don’t think too much about myself personally. The only thing I am worried about is doing my job to help the team win games. My only goal is to win as many games as possible and see how special we can make this season. I hope to only bring happiness and excitement to the fans and the city of Pistoia!”
5) Did you expect to win the Italian SuperCup? What was the key about this success?
“I can’t say I expected to win. But it was my goal. I know the Super Cup isn’t always seen as important because it’s a preseason cup. But I personally feel that it’s important anytime you can win a cup. The biggest key in my opinion was how close we are as a team. We l get along very well and love each other. We all want each other to play well and be successful. We are a very close team and that is why we have been successful so far.”
6) Pistoia is a club that played a lot of years in A1, do you have the goal of bringing this team back to where it deserves?
“I understand the great history of Pistoia and my goal is to bring this team back to where they belong. My goal is to bring the team back to A1 and I hope we are blessed with good health to continue what we have started. It’s a long season and anything can happen. We just have to stay together and continue to love each other to continue this success.”
7) What relationship do you have with Pistoia fans?
“I love the Pistoia fans! They are so important to our success. They are loud and extremely supportive. Through the ups and downs of games they always support us and help us win. I love that they show up to away games and no matter where we are, we have a little bit of Pistoia with us. We are never alone in any game we play. They love us and we love them even more. I can’t thank the Pistoia fans enough for their love and support this season!”
8) Your starting five with the best players you have played against or you had in team in A1 and in your university career.
“We have some great guys on this team and some very skilled players. However in my university career, I have played with NBA level talent. Caleb and Cody Martin play in the NBA for the charlotte hornets and Miami heat. Jordan Caroline currently plays with Trento in A1 but played for the lakers. Jalen Harris plays for Cremona in A1 but played for the Toronto raptors last year. Treshawn Thurman currently plays in the g league. I name all these players just to mention a few of some of the amazing guys I have played with. However, I love everything about my current team and they team me and help me with so much! You don’t find many teams that get along the way we do. So it’s truly a blessing to play with some great humans beings. It’s not always about basketball. The fact that I can call each one of these guys my friends means more to me than anything we can do on the basketball court.”
Thanks to Pistoia Basket and Jazz Johnson for the availability!