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Episode 78: Where in the World is WJHS Basketball Great Jordan Loveridge?

He rose to the top of his game as a 6-foot-6 inch forward in basketball for the West Jordan High School Jaguars and was named 2012 5A Player of the Year leading the state in scoring and rebounding. Jordan Loveridge, or "J-Love" as he is known to some, also made a name for himself in the basketball program at the University of Utah where he became one of the top scorers in school history.

Today, at the age of 27, the West Jordan High grad is still making a name for himself playing professional basketball overseas. On this episode of the Supercast, we catch up with Jordan Loveridge who is currently playing pro ball in Finland. Find out how his time at West Jordan High helped him reach his goals and how life has changed with his superstar status abroad.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. He rose to the top of his game as a 6'6" forward in basketball for the West Jordan High School Jaguars and was named 2012 5A Player of the Year leading the state in scoring and rebounding. Jordan Loveridge, better known as "J-Love" to some, also made a name for himself in the basketball program at the University of Utah, where he became one of the top scorers in school history. Today at the age of 27, the West Jordan High grad is still making a name for himself playing professional basketball overseas. On this episode of the Supercast, we catch up with Jordan Loveridge who is currently playing pro ball in Finland. Find out how his time at West Jordan High helped him reach his goals and how his life has changed with his superstar status abroad.

Anthony Godfrey:
We are with former Jordan School District student Jordan Loveridge. Jordan, thanks for joining us.

Jordan:
Yeah, thanks for having me all the way from Finland.

Anthony Godfrey:
What time is it there in Finland right now?

Jordan:
It's about 6:30 at night.

Anthony Godfrey:
So it's been dark for about four hours now, right?

Jordan:
Yep.

Anthony Godfrey:
I'm really excited to talk with you. I watched you play when you were here at West Jordan High School. When did you graduate?

Jordan:
I graduated in 2012.

Anthony Godfrey:
2012, the time flies. It was really fun to watch you. I was just talking with a couple of colleagues telling them that I had the chance to interview you and they were pretty excited about that. They have a lot of respect for how you held yourself off the court in addition to your game play. They just reminded me how fun you are to watch play basketball and what a great, humble, approachable person you've always been, even through all of your success.

Jordan:
I appreciate that.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell us, what are your memories of playing at West Jordan High School? We are going to talk about all the places you've been and the great career that you have, but tell me about your memories of West Jordan. What stands out to you?

Jordan:
Just a great group of guys I got to play with and, you know, the coaching staff, Scott Briggs, and then Damron, it was just great atmosphere. It really prepared me for going in play in Utah. They really knew basketball and I was a young, naive guy coming in and thought I knew everything, but they taught me a lot. And it just was fun to play with those teammates. I still have good connections with the coaches and my teammates from high school. So it was a great experience all around.

Anthony Godfrey:
When did you first realize, hey, I'm kind of better than everybody else? When you were a kid, when did you realize that you had a gift for playing basketball?

Jordan:
I think when my dad actually let me play with his friends. I used to go to the gym with him and they would just let me shoot on the side. I always wanted to get in their games, but he never would let me play. And then eventually, when I got a little stronger, he let me play and I started beating them and dominating in those games. So I figured, if I can do these things versus strong men, I might have it to enter the high school level.

Anthony Godfrey:
Beating your dad's friends at basketball must have been its own kind of satisfaction.

Jordan:
Yeah, for sure. I mean, those guys to me were like the NBA. Oh, I can wait to play against these guys. You know, I knew these guys. They've got all those stats and what they were doing things like that. So it was fun to get to jump in those games.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah. Sure. And then after West Jordan, you played at the U. You may not know this, but I have a poster signed by you. I can't remember from which year I got that through your mom, and I'm actually a huge fan of your mom as well. It comprehends, she's always so nice. She always ask before I can ask how are you doing. You always asks how I'm doing and checking in on me. So she's a great support, but tell us about being at the U.

Jordan:
Definitely grown up and got to be away from home, you know. Had a great coaching staff up there as well, which helped me and helps me be prepared to play professionally. And you know, we did some great things. Went to the Sweet 16, had some great players come through there, got to play with some great players on my team. It was just a fun experience to get to be there four years, get to graduate and just get to play at the highest level.

Anthony Godfrey:
Who were some of the people that you remember playing against when you were at the U?

Jordan:
I think just in the PAC 12, there's so many great players. For me, it was more of the places we got to play. You know, you get to play at UCLA, USC with the schools, people in the basketball world and even just in the college world. People dream to go to those schools or play at those schools. So I got to go play in front of UCLA, Arizona, Oregon, got to be at those places and got to play for some of those top ranked guys that play that either in a queue or you just have seen play on TV. So I think just experience of getting to go and play high level players every single night.

Anthony Godfrey:
And playing in the Sweet 16. I mean, that's really something special.

Jordan:
Yeah, for sure. I mean, growing up, I always would fill out brackets for March madness. I tried to watch during school and stuff and never was able to because a lot of the early games started when I was in class. But I always was checking scores just to see. But then to make it to be a part of it was, you know, it's amazing.

Anthony Godfrey:
And now you're a professional basketball player. How many years have you been playing professional basketball?

Jordan Loveridge:
This is my fifth year. Yeah,

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah, yeah. And you're with the Cobra. Is that right? How do I say that? The Cobras. Is that right?

Jordan:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Very nice. Tell me, let's first talk about all the places that you've played. It's quite a list. You played in Switzerland, Austria, I think. Tell us about your journey there, first of all. How did you get to start playing in Europe?

Jordan:
So I signed with an agent out of college and he just had some great connections. I started my career off in Hungary in a little village called Carmen. It was definitely different from college to Carmen, a little small town by myself. But I had basketball to focus on, which was great. And then from there I went to Switzerland to a lot bigger city, which was nice and Switzerland's a beautiful country. And then the next year I went to Germany. The German league is one of the top basketball leagues in Europe. So that was a great experience. And then I went to Austria. And then now this year in Finland.

Anthony Godfrey:
The European leagues, how does that work? I know in soccer, based on how well a team does, they may be moved up or down, out of a league. And I know the team that you played for plays in the highest European league right now. So how does all of that work?

Jordan:
So usually each country has their own league. They have top league and then it goes, the second league, third league, or how many other leagues they have. And so everyone's trying to play in the top league in whatever country they're in. And then there's also European competitions where you get to go and travel and play. For example, if my team was in one of those, we would go play in France or in Germany for some of their top teams. And that's a whole different tournament. But for the most part, teams are trying to make it in the top league in their country.

Anthony Godfrey:
Because the top league mean that you're going to end up playing in other countries more frequently.

Jordan:
Yeah. I mean, you definitely have a better chance to be seen and sign a better contract in a country that you want to go, or that wants you to come and play for their team.

Anthony Godfrey:
What does your current team look like in terms of where the players are from?

Jordan:
We have a guy that played on North Carolina. His name is Justin Pierce. A guy from Fresno State, Nate Grimes, he's a rookie. And then a guy that played in the Canadian League for three or four years that did really good. His name is Anthony Gangs. So we have four Americans and then the rest are Finnish guys.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, so dude, all the Finnish guys speak English? Or are you now speaking French?

Jordan:
No. Everybody around the team usually speaks English. I haven't been to a concert where I had to learn the language too much.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah. So how do you like Finland? What's Finland like?

Jordan:
I definitely dark and cold, but with my family here, it's been great. I get to see my son and my wife every day. It's tough being away from family back home, but we have FaceTime, things like that. And they're very supportive of me playing and they want me to continue to play so it's not bad at all.

Anthony Godfrey:
Is there time in the summer when you can come home or when's the off season?

Jordan:
Yeah. So usually I get around four months at home and I try and make it back to Utah. I spend a lot of time with family and we try to do as much stuff as we can within that four months. It's tough, but still we try to fit in trips and, make sure we're always eating dinner at either my wife's parents or my parents.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's really great. And your family watch these games? Are they streamed so they can follow your career from here?

Jordan:
They've been able to watch pretty much all of my games anywhere I've played. Each country usually has some type of TV deal, as we do at home, where the NBA is on ESPN or TNC, but over here they have their own streaming service so it's been pretty easy for them to watch off the gangs.

Anthony Godfrey:
You mentioned your family. How old is your son now?

Jordan:
18 months.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, congratulations. That's exciting. What's his name?

Jordan:
Kingston.

Anthony Godfrey:
Very cool. And how did you meet your wife? When did you get married?

Jordan:
So I got married three years ago. I met my wife were just out in downtown Salt Lake. One of my friends actually went to school to Southern Utah with her. She was a volleyball player in Southern Utah. He's a football player and he actually went to West High School and he introduced me to her. From there we just kept talking and hanging out and the rest is history.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's great. Tell me about your parents. Like I said, I'm a huge fan of your mom. It's odd. It's obvious that she's one of the people in this district that really stands out to me as someone who takes care of other people, looks out for them. Tell me about the lessons that your parents taught you and the way they provided opportunities for you to get you to where you are now.

Jordan:
They're just very selfless people. They just want to do everything for everyone else.  I tease them sometimes that they need to look out for themselves once in a while, just because they are always running around doing things for other people. They didn't want to help from people either. But if it's moving, if  you need this, you need us to coach, you know you can come to our house. They always are very selfless. So just seeing that, I try to strive to be like them and try to help everyone be friends with everyone. Especially traveling and meeting new people in different cultures and try to see what their culture is about. Talking to new people, you know, I try to be just like them. Just be selfless and be friendly with pretty much everyone.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well that those lessons serve you well as you play on various teams and in various countries. We're going to take a quick break and when we come back, find out what's next for Jordan Loveridge and what advice he has for other young athletes.

Break:
If you're ready to start your child on the path to personalized learning, we are ready to help. The Jordan Virtual Learning Academy is coming to Jordan School District in the 2021-22 school year. Three new schools will be opening as part of the Academy, Rocky Peak Virtual Elementary School, Kelsey Peak Virtual Middle School, and Kings Peak High School. Each school will have their own principal and teachers and each will give students a choice in their own learning. The schools will offer synchronous learning, which is teachers providing real time, live online instruction and asynchronous learning where teachers provide videotaped instruction for learning on a student's schedule. To register your student in the Jordan Virtual Learning Academy, visit http://connect.jordandistrict.org.

Jordan:
Jordan, do you ever get the chance to go in and talk with students about basketball or do some school programs where you teach them some drills or anything like that?

Jordan:
So there's usually a school program that we do and I've done it almost every country. We go and talk with the kids, teach them some drills, teach them some stuff that they can do at home that if they do like basketball or if they just want to stay active. We'll go to schools and a couple of times a month and teach a basketball class and then just talk with them a little bit. They get to ask questions and see where we're from and get to learn a little bit from us. So we definitely get to do that and that's always fun to go to the different schools.

Anthony Godfrey:
How has living around the world in these different countries under these different circumstances changed?

Jordan:
It's opened my eyes to different ways of living, different ways to do things. Just traveling and living in smaller places, some bigger places, different cultures, just learning day to day what other people go through and do. It's really helped me grow and helped me realize how fortunate we are for the things that we have. Just simple things like dishwashers or dryers or things like that, you know, that we all have. We take them for granted sometimes, and not everyone has those here and they live just fine and happy. And you know, it's really just opened my eyes to things like that.

Anthony Godfrey:
What's the food like in Finland? Do you like to fish? I think probably.

Jordan:
Yeah, for sure. A lot of fish. They actually have reindeer here, which I never ate before I came here. So I tried reindeer for the first time. It was pretty good. They have a lot of they eat, a lot of moose here.

Anthony Godfrey:
So can you drive through McDonald's and you can get like a moose combo. I'll have the number two reindeer burger and a large fry.

Jordan:
But you can t=go to pizza places and things like that. You can order a reindeer on pizza. You can order moose on pizza and things like that. You can have pasta with moose or reindeer, which is a little different, but you know.

Anthony Godfrey:
I'll have the Blitzen number three, I guess, is what you can order. Well, that's really interesting. That's fascinating. Tell me, what advice would you give to students who aspire to a career in professional sports?

Jordan:
I think just making sure you work hard every day. I mean, it sounds so simple, but you know, not a lot of guys go to the gym every day and stay really consistent. As long as you're consistent and it's something that you love to do. You shouldn't be forced to do it if you don't love it. Maybe there's something else out for you. But if you really do love the play and it's something that you wanted to, there's thousands of leagues in the world that guys are playing professionals. So it's not easy, but if you put in the work, you'll definitely be able to get something out of it.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's great advice. Obviously your love for basketball has not diminished. Who are some of the basketball players that you look up to?

Jordan:
First it was probably just my dad. You know, that's why I wanted to play. He actually was going to play overseas and then my parents were about to have me, so he made the decision to actually stay home and get a job and kind of go away from that dream. And so I felt like I always owed it to him a little bit to pursue basketball. And then I fell in love with it and kind of ran with it. I would probably say after him, Kobe Bryant was a big one for me growing up. Just the way he approached the game and how he just always wanted to compete in every game and every aspect of life. Really, that's how he was. So those two probably were really big for me.

Anthony Godfrey:
When you mentioned Koby, I think about the Black Mamba. Do you have any nicknames?

Jordan Loveridge:
No, mine kind of just stuck from high school. People shortened my name to "J-Love". So that one kind of stuck all the way through college. And then some of my teammates will, if they search me or if they hear stuff or see people post stuff overseas sometimes use that same nickname.

Anthony Godfrey:
J-Love, =that is a good nickname. That really good.

Jordan Loveridge:
It's kind of stuck.

Anthony Godfrey:
How tall are you Jordan?

Jordan:
Six foot six.

Anthony Godfrey:
So I would suspect you stand out a little bit as you walk around Finland.

Jordan Loveridge:
Yeah, for sure.

Anthony Godfrey:
Do they recognize you as a basketball player in that league.

Jordan:
Yeah. I mean, at the stores people will come up and definitely want to shake my hand and just wanna talk, with me. And they definitely want to practice their English. I feel like sometimes they want to come and just say a few words or a few sentences just to have a conversation, because they don't see people from America too much, especially in the town I'm living in. It's a pretty small town. So, I think they love to have people from different cultures and different backgrounds. So it's been fun.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's really exciting. Tell me about the town itself. How big is the town what's comparable here? Would you say?

Jordan:
I couldn't really compare it to anything back home. Maybe a small town like Delta or something like that would be a good comparison. But other than that, I couldn't really compare this because we're very fortunate at home to have a Walmart, every other corporate on every other street. But like here, there's two grocery stores, a couple of gas stations, one gym, there's just not as many things available here.

Anthony Godfrey:
I joked earlier about how much it is dark. How much daylight do you have this time of year?

Jordan:
It just varies. It's been a lot better the past couple of days, but before that, I don't know, it was probably I'd have to say four hours light maybe.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow. Well, I'm sure this is an unforgettable experience for you to be living in these different countries. Well, you've accomplished so much, Jordan. What's next? What are you looking for now?

Jordan:
For me, I think just winning a European championship would be the icing on the cake. It just would kind of validate, that I was working towards a goal and I want to make a team a champion. I want to be a champion. I've won championships at every level and have a chance to win a championship at the European level. So I think that would be the next great goal I could accomplish.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, I wish you the very best in pursuit of that goal. Go Cobras.

Jordan:
Thank you. Thank you.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, thanks again for joining us. Like I said earlier, guys I work with are envious that I got to interview you today. Everyone who knows you just has such respect for you and not just the way you play, but who you are. And so I really appreciate your taking the time, all the way from Finland. When's your next game?

Jordan:
Tomorrow actually.

Anthony Godfrey:
Who do you play?

Jordan:
The team name is Fire-Ando.

Anthony Godfrey:
Luck against the Fire-Ando and take care of best of luck to you and your family.

Jordan:
Yeah, thanks.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks for joining us on another episode of the Supercast. Remember, education is the most important thing you will do today. We'll see ya.

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