Q+A: Scoop Jardine
The Syracuse grad talks about preparing for the NBA Draft, dating Michael Jordan’s daughter and more.
SLAM: You said before that your family never put pressure on you to leave school early. Do you have friend or teammates who you’ve seen that happen to?
SJ: No, no. Not at all. I mean, I just think being an athlete, that comes with it. I don’t think anybody puts pressure on you. It just comes with it. Our days, everyone is leaving early, but for myself, graduating was always my goal.
SLAM: There’s been a lot of discussions recently about the NBA’s age limit, and what it should be. As someone who stayed in college, what are your thoughts on this?
SJ: I think if you’re ready, then you’re ready. Some of the best players in the world, guys like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, are guys who came out early. But I also think college is a beautiful thing, and it’s not as bad as a lot of guys make it out to be. I think if you go to college, like I did, you love it. I’m missing college right now. It was the best time in my life. I think if you go to college, and do the right things on and off the court, and take what they give you as far as the opportunity to go to a prestigious school, I think you’ll have a great time. But some guys come from different environments and different situations, and that NBA money is just there and you can just take it… everybody is different.
SLAM: Give me an example, off the court, of how your college experience was different than mine.
SJ: I don’t really know yours.
SLAM: Different than a typical person…
SJ: I always try to be typical. I always try to be regular. I think that’s how you get everybody to like you. I never really tried to be The Athlete, or get things that The Athlete got. When I was regular and being myself, everything came with that. A lot of people even loved me more because I was an athlete who was regular just like everyone else. There were little events, like I used to go to lacrosse games and support all the school’s athletes that were playing. And coming from Syracuse basketball, that meant a lot to them. Everybody looks up to us. And for myself, I just always try to put myself in an environment where people look at me and say, “Look, Scoop Jardine came out to support us.” For me, it was just all about putting myself out there and enjoying myself. I always feel like I have to make an example, and that’s what I tried doing at Syracuse.
SLAM: But you’re still flying all over the country and playing basketball games. That’s not what you would call “a typical” college experience.
SJ: Yeah, I was telling my friend that, coming from Syracuse, the only place I can go after Syracuse is the NBA because Syracuse was just that high profile in terms of how we got treated with five star hotels and flying first class and everything. We got treated like an NBA team, and when you get that treatment, there’s only one way to go, and that’s higher than that. And the only place that is higher than that is the NBA. That’s how coach (Jim) Boeheim runs his program, and I was fortunate to be a part of that. That’s why I think I’m ready for the NBA—because of the professionalism I learned at Syracuse.
SLAM: Have you thought about what you’ll do if you don’t get drafted or make the NBA?
SJ: Well, right now, you just never know. I just want to continue to play basketball for as long as I can. And I think, if I don’t get drafted, I’d still believe in my talent, and know that I can make the League. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get drafted, it just means you didn’t hear your name called that day. I know a lot of guys who didn’t get drafted, and who still made the NBA. But I know, if I don’t get drafted, you will still see me when the NBA season starts. And if you don’t see me then, you’ll see two or three years later. That’s my dream, and I’m going to continue to chase it.
SLAM: What was it like being at Syracuse during the whole Bernie Fine saga?
SJ: For me, being the captain of the team, and for my teammates, we just didn’t know anything about it, and we knew it was something that we couldn’t control. It wasn’t about “us.” I think that was something that happened before us, if it did happen, and if it did, that was something for the school to take care of. And they did. But as a senior, I wasn’t going to let anything come between us.
SLAM: Did you discuss it at all with your teammates?
SJ: Well, we ignored it. At the end of the day, we have to go out and play basketball. It didn’t concern us. We didn’t have anything to do with it.
SLAM: On a lighter note, you’re dating Michael Jordan’s daughter, Jasmine. Put me in the room the first time you meet him, where you’re introduced to Jordan as the man dating his daughter.
SJ: I don’t know, that situation… the way you look at it is like this: If you’ve got kids, or you have a daughter, she’s your little girl, so you want [her to date] a guy that’s well mannered and that treats her with respect. And that’s what I do and give her. With that being said, I think, you know, being a guy that I looked up to all my life, I don’t know how I’ll react when I meet him. But I know one thing: I talk to him, and he’s a great guy. I’m very fortunate to date his daughter.
SLAM: You think you’ll be nervous when you meet him?
SJ: I don’t know, I might be. I’m sweating right now. But I know he raised a great daughter, though.
SLAM: Maybe you should ask him about the Bobcats.
SLAM: You don’t have any tips for him?
SJ: [Laughs] No tips.