Jordan Ford Reengineering His Shot
After averaging over 20 points per game during the regular season, Folsom (Calif.) point guard Jordan Ford saw his production begin to slip in the playoffs, culminating in a dismal shooting night in the Northern California Open Division semifinal at Oakland (Calif.) Laney College.
The Bulldogs fell, 75-57, to eventual Open Division champs Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O’Dowd, and Ford – known for his jump shooting and fearlessness driving to the hoop – scored just 2 points in the first 15 minutes, finally scoring 10 points in the final 17 minutes, when the game was largely decided.
The loss stayed with the three-star 2016 point guard, and left a sour taste in his mouth, particularly nasty seeing as he watched Boise State-bound Paris Austin nail four three-pointers, go 8-for-11 from the field and finish with 22 points.
“I’ve worked a lot harder, because I know I can’t … I know my team relies on me, so I have to be able to produce numbers,” said Ford. “I changed my shot. I had it over my head, last high school season, and it was too far back. It was more of a two-motion shot. I’ve changed it to a one-motion shot, kind of like Steph Curry. I’m still working on that right now, but I’ve done a lot of things to improve our chances for next year.”
The decision to change his shot came even before the game against the Dragons. That game drove that decision home.
“It was definitely time, because I had a lot of open looks,” said Ford. “I felt like I got my shot off pretty easily; it just wasn’t falling that day. I knew my jumper wasn’t at its best. I was kind of relieved that I would be able to fix it. My shot just didn’t feel right at that time, so it feels a lot better now. I’m still working out some flaws with this new shot. It’s been about a month and a half. I’m going to keep improving on this shot.”
After changing his shot from a chest-based approach in junior high to his more over-head stroke through his first three years of high school, Ford realized that he had to evolve from the two-stroke cock-and-fire shot he’d come to use.
“I went from a shot from my chest to an overhead shot, like a pull-up jumper, like Kobe,” said Ford. “It was in front of my face, so when I shot it, it was a nice, smooth shot, but last high school season, something happened, to where it got over my head, and I was kind of slingshot-ing it, so I made an effort to change it to a smooth shot, to get it into one motion, and get it to where it was more effortless, so that it could be a more free shot.”
The reviews have been positive. Ford has gotten good feedback from the coaches who saw his first two EYBL sessions with the Oakland Soldiers – he’s in his second year with the program – but his third session in Houston was a bit hit-or-miss.
“The first EYBL session I came out firing, and I averaged about 20 a game, and my shot was really working for me,” Ford said. “I hit 7-for-9 from three, stuff like that. I was just having some crazy numbers the first session. Of course, with a new shot, you’re going to be streaky. I had an off session, last session, but I’ve heard good feedback. They said it looked smooth. The shots I’m missing are barely off, and they still feel good, so I’m just working on getting the side-spin off my shot, right now.”
One of the coaching staffs that came out to see Ford this spring was that of California, which scored a Letter of Intent from O’Dowd’s Ivan Rabb -- the third Oakland Soldier to commit to the Bears since 2013.
“They talked to me about how much they liked watching me and the team play … I like the coaching staff over there,” said Ford. “Talking to them, they make you feel nice and at home. They made a good decision going with coach Cuonzo, and I wasn’t really surprised with Ivan, being in his backyard. Coach Cuonzo knows how to recruit players, so I wasn’t really surprised at that, at all. They should have a really good team, coming up.”
With Tyrone Wallace coming back for his senior year as Cal’s point guard, Ford is one of the Bears’ top targets at the position in the 2016 class, and he’s spoken with head coach Cuonzo Martin and assistant Tracy Webster the most during his recruitment, and has texted back and forth with assistant Yanni Hufnagel.
“They just seem like good people, not only on the court, but off the court,” Ford said. “I feel like they teach kids the right way, and teach them how to become a man, and not just on-the-court stuff. They just make you feel like they really care about you.”
Cal isn’t the only staff on Ford, though. He’s talked with UC Santa Barbara, Gonzaga, Oregon State, Fresno State and Sacramento State the most. The Beavers, Ford thinks, are close to offering, which would add to a list that includes the Gauchos, Bulldogs and Pepperdine.
“They’re pretty close to offering, I think,” Ford said. “We’ll see about that, and also Utah State. Oregon State, I still have to do some more research on that school. They’re in the Pac-12, and they had a pretty good year last year. They’re still rebuilding, so I still have to do some more research.”
Ford has already done plenty of research on the local team, Cal. Beyond playing in the same AAU program as Rabb, he plays on the same team as Martin’s first commit – fellow 2016 prospect Oscar Frayer.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Ford said of playing with Frayer. “He’s a freak athlete. We’re still trying to get him to work on his jump shot, and it’s improving. He’s a remarkable, remarkable athlete. It’s crazy to see how he can dunk like that. I wish I would be able to do that. He’s probably one of the funniest dudes on the team. He’s a great character. I love having him on the team.”
Ford and Frayer have known each other since the fourth grade – Frayer playing for the Oakland Rebels, and Ford for the Sacramento Yellow Jackets -- so when they talk recruiting, it has additional weight.
“We’ve played each other a lot,” Ford said. “He’s always trying to get some of the Soldiers to come with him. He’s been in my ear a lot, so it’s been good. He’s been talking to a lot of the guys, and he’s happy to be at Cal. I say, ‘Why did you commit so early?’ He said he knew where he wanted to be by his freshman year. That tells you what Cal means to him.”
One of the reasons that Ford moved from the Play Hard Play Smart AAU program to the Soldiers was to play with players like Frayer, and, he says “to make it to the playoffs and win a [EBYL] championship. I think it was just the best move, so I could get ready to play in college.”
There is also a healthy compliment of college coaches watching the Soldiers.
“There’s a ton of coaches, at least 15 coaches at every game, pretty much,” Ford said. “If you make it to Peach Jam and the playoffs, there are 50 coaches lined up on the sideline, just watching you play, literally face-to-face with you. It’s a remarkable experience.”
The Soldiers are now 7-5 in the EYBL, so, Ford said, they have to do exceptionally well in the five games they have in the next session, in order to make it to the premier event of the circuit – the Peach Jam.
“We’ll do it,” he said.
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