Justin Jamison already has experience as a professional athlete.
Coming out of Strongsville (OH), Jamison was committed to play baseball at Ohio State but decided to pursue his dream of playing in the big leagues a little earlier than expected after he was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 13th round of the 2009 MLB Draft.
At 6-foot-9, 260-pounds, Jamison was a promising pitcher until he suffered a partially torn labrum during spring training in 2011. After the injury, Jamison enrolled at Cleveland State for a semester before taking a year off and ultimately deciding he wanted to give basketball a try.
So this past summer, Jamison went the JUCO route and is now a starting power forward for Missouri State West Plains. Jamison has lost 25 pounds over the last few months and is averaging 10.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
"Baseball and basketball are really interchangeable. You do a lot of running in basketball, and it's more about quick twitch," Jamison said. "When I started, it was just about getting in shape and getting my lungs right. It's great to get back into the game on the JUCO level. It would have been tough to start off right away at a Division I school."
Jamison, who is now 23 years old, has transitioned from the mound to the court almost seamlessly, and he's now attracting interest from some of the nation's top programs. The athletic big man currently holds offers from Florida State, Oregon, Texas Tech, Wichita State and others.
SMU is the latest school to get in the mix. The Mustangs extended an offer to Jamison last week, which came as somewhat of a surprise.
"Coach (KT) Turner and Coach (Ulric) Maligi came to my game the other day. I hadn't heard from SMU, but Coach Turner called me afterwards and said SMU was looking for some bigs," Jamison said. "They want someone that can help them out right away. Then I got to talk to Coach (Larry) Brown, and he told me that I had an offer."
Despite pitching in the Rangers' minor league system, Jamison never made it down to the Dallas-area and admits that he doesn't know too much about the program. But he does know plenty about Larry Brown. And that has him very intrigued.
"He was actually on the phone with Doc Rivers when I called. I had to wait a little bit, and when he answered, he told me jokingly, hey you want to play for the Clippers? I was just talking to Doc Rivers," Jamison said. "It was amazing to see all the connections he has. I mean, he was just casually talking to Doc Rivers. That's awesome.
"My conversation with him went great. My goal is to play in the NBA, and I know Coach Brown can make those dreams possible. Coach Brown said he saw my tape, and he said we have to get on this kid now. He is going to come to one of my games next week. My interest level in SMU is really high based on Coach Brown. He's a Hall of Famer, and everyone I've talked to says he's the best."
Jamison says he hopes to visit SMU after the season and also plans on making trips to Pittsburgh, Oregon and Texas Tech. But he added that he's getting new looks every week and things could change.
For now, he's focused on the season and improving his overall game.
"My coach compared me to Carlos Boozer, and I kind of like that. I'm a really unselfish player. I'm good at passing out of the post," Jamison said. "I can also protect the rim and be a shot blocker. I can score down low and make a face up jumper. I'm a really athletic player."
JUCO Big Man Talks SMU Offer
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