Jono Janssen on adjusting to college in the USA

Queenslander Jonathon Janssen is now adjusting to life in Cleveland, Ohio as a sophomore with the Cleveland State Vikings. Janssen, a 6’9 forward, has been able to develop his game to fit the mold of a current day stretch-4. I was lucky enough to talk with Janssen to talk adjusting to college, his journey to America, playing in Cleveland and more.

Jono Jannsen | Credit: Cleveland State Athletics

Luke Sicari (LS): First off Jono, thanks for taking your time out to speak to us. So, it is your first year of playing college basketball, after sitting out last season. What has been the biggest adjustment on the court so far?

Jonothan Janssen (JJ): The biggest adjustment has been the pace of the game.

LS: How about off the court? The atmosphere of college basketball, the lifestyle, the pressure of balancing the basketball side and the academic side of things. How have you found all of that?

JJ: It’s stressful at times, trying to balance everything, but it keeps you busy and focused. You don’t have a lot of spare time, but try to make good time of it when you do get some free time.

LS: At 6’9, you have a tremendous outside jumpshot for your height. With the sudden spike in stretch 4’s and bigs who can hit the outside jumper, have you made that a point of emphasis in your game, to improve the jumper and have the ability to space the floor?

JJ: Definitely. I think it’s a huge thing for any team and it’s a position that’s growing in basketball. I definitely put an emphasis on it.

LS: Do you pride your game on anyone in particular? Or is there a player you look up to and say, ‘I want to be able to play like him.’

JJ: I am always looking at players, whether its professionals or college guys. Some of the pros I look at are Kevin Love and Dirk Nowitzki. I try to look at all different types of players and see how I can improve on my game.

LS: What is the one area of your game that you plan to improve the most over the off-season? Do you focus on trying to improve one certain aspect of your game or is it getting better in a number of different areas?

JJ: Usually you want to be getting better at everything. A few areas I am focusing on are getting stronger and more athletic which will help me on offense and defense.

LS: Lets talk about your journey to get to Cleveland State for a minute. So you came from Mountain Creek up in Queensland and now find yourself in Northeast Ohio. For those who aren’t familiar with your story from Australia to America, would you be able to explain how you got here?

JJ: I finished high school and didn’t know what I wanted to do. Someone suggested going to states so I went to post grad high school in Baltimore. I was only eligible for 5 games and when I found out I couldn’t play anymore, CSU was recruiting me, I took a visit and committed.

LS: Throughout your basketball journey, who has been your biggest mentor or leader?

JJ: My brother. He’s been at a high level of sport his whole life playing water polo. He directed me in the right way and kept me playing even when I didn’t want to. We lived in a small town so I never really had an influential coach or anyone like that.

LS: Okay, so playing in Cleveland, you obviously would have noticed the attention that a LeBron James led Cavaliers team gets and the passion that Cleveland sports fans have. Playing at CSU, have you taken note of the passion and pride Cleveland fans have in their sports?

JJ: Yes…everyone knows as soon as it gets to playoffs, Cleveland is different place. People pride themselves on it. The passion around Cleveland is really special. I was able to go to a few playoff games last year and support fellow Australian Matthew Dellavedova.

LS: One more quick point before we wrap it up. CSU has played some games in the Quicken Loans Arena this year, home of the Cavs. Playing in an NBA arena that does add fuel to the fire to make it to the pros?

JJ: Yes…when playing on same court as professionals, you feel the need to step up your game. But at the end of day, you need to focus on the game plan and play the best you can.

Thanks to Janssen and Cleveland State Athletics for the support in enabling this interview.