Since he graduated from Longmont High School in 2016, Justinian Jessup has continued to master level after level in the basketball world.
Now, the former Trojans star is on the verge of accomplishing the dream.
Having recently completed his senior season at Boise State University, the 22-year-old sharpshooter signed a deal this past week to play for The Hawks in Australia’s National Basketball League. The move is a shrewd one for the promising young player, who will be able to further hone his craft against professionals while remaining a draft-eligible prospect as the NBA draft approaches on Oct. 16.
“Obviously, the future is pretty uncertain so I wanted to choose a more secure route with everything that’s going on,” Jessup said. “It’s a good situation for me because NBA teams can still pick me so I’ll have some security while I prepare.”
Projected to potentially go in the second round of the upcoming NBA draft, Jessup’s college resume is impressive.
The 6-foot-6 wing holds the Mountain West and Boise State records with 325 made 3-pointers in his collegiate career. He set the Boise State single-season record with 98 made 3-pointers as a senior in 2019-20 and as the program’s leader in career starts, Jessup is the first player in Broncos history to finish his career with at least 1,500 points, 500 rebounds, 250 assists, 150 steals and 50 blocks.
Jessup said he benefited immensely from being in a situation at Boise State that forced him to develop as a deadly left-handed perimeter shooter to support incumbent star player Chandler Hutchison. Though he’s set to play on a two-year deal with The Hawks in the NBL, developing his shooting ability may very well be key to him getting selected in the NBA draft and having a professional team buy out his contract and allow him to come back to play in the states.
That, of course, would mark the realization of a lifelong dream.
“It’s crazy,” Jessup said. “When I was a freshman in high school, I wouldn’t think this was possible. Even just interviewing with NBA teams is surreal. I’m just thankful and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
“Boise State was really good to me and playing in Australia is a great opportunity and a good situation for me. The coach I’m going to play for is really good and it’s a great opportunity for me to get adjusted to a higher level of competition.”
Playing abroad and in Australia’s NBL in particular is a proven method for prospects to gain NBA exposure and raise their draft stock. LaMelo Ball, for example, is expected to be a first-round pick in the NBA draft after playing this past season with The Hawks in the NBL.
If he gets drafted, the NBA can buy out Jessup’s contract or let him play out the NBL season, which goes from December to April, in Australia. Pending any new developments with the global COVID-19 pandemic, Jessup plans to leave for Australia in early October.
As a senior at Longmont, Jessup averaged 18.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.6 steals per game while shooting 54 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3-point range. He led the Trojans to back-to-back Final Four appearances in his final two seasons and finished his career with over 1,500 career points and 297 steals. His steals total still stands as the most by a single player in the exceptional program’s history.