Dribbling in a parking lot in Tulsa, Oklahoma and imagining shooting a game-winning shot with three seconds left on the game clock, Jordan Lawson knew he wanted to play basketball.
“I wanted to be able to do that in real life and have the crowd cheer,” said Lawson.
That dream became a reality when Lawson hit a game winner in a Junior Varsity game in high school.
“After that, I couldn’t get enough of it [basketball],” said Lawson.
Following a successful high school career, Lawson had no plans of playing college basketball — that all changed one day when he was out trying to catch some Pokémon.
Lawson was playing the popular mobile game, Pokémon GO, when he was approached by a friend he hadn’t seen in a while. Lawson said his friend asked if he was playing basketball and recruited him to play at Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
The 24-year-old from Tulsa played in his home state for one year, but said Bacone wasn’t the right fit for him.
Not knowing where he wanted to play next, Lawson posted on Instagram about wanting to transfer schools. Former player at Providence University College (PUC) and current assistant coach Kendall Perpall messaged him to come play in Otterburne, Manitoba.
“He’s from my hometown and I knew him before,” said Lawson.
From Pokémon GO to an Instagram message, Lawson’s journey to Canada wasn’t ordinary.
He is now a top player in the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference (MCAC) and recently scored a league record 52 points in a 100-80 loss to the Red River College Rebels on Nov. 8, 2019.
Lawson is set to graduate from PUC’s business administration program this spring, but said he expects his basketball journey to continue.
“A really cool place to play would be Spain,” said Lawson. “I just want to experience the culture and be able to say I played professional ball.”
Following a professional career overseas, Lawson said he wants to give back to the basketball community. He plans on opening a gym to help prepare the next generation of basketball talent.
“I love kids and they’re going to be our future,” said Lawson. “I just want to [help] as much as I can so they can reach their goals.”
Lawson said he’s learned valuable lessons as the Pilots captain this season that will help him with training kids at his future gym.
“Every kid isn’t going to be the same, so I’m going to have to know who I can teach which way,” said Lawson. “Like who I can be hard on and who I have to comfort into things.”
Lawson isn’t sure where he wants to open his basketball gym, but said Canada is an option.
“In Canada, basketball is really growing,” said Lawson. “It helps that the Raptors won the championship. Basketball is rising and there isn’t too much of a market yet.”
However, the market is saturated with trainers in his hometown, he said.
Giving back to the community isn’t anything new for Lawson who has been in the Army National Guard for six years now.
Lawson makes up most of his training during the summer months but has to head down south in October for weapons qualification drills and December for medical training.
The Pilots’ captain had to miss a Friday game in December for Army National Guard training but his dedication to the game of basketball drove him to make Saturday’s match.
“I drove through the night, 12 hours, to be there for that game,” said Lawson.
Lawson’s reasoning for joining the National Guard isn’t too different from his future plans.
“I wanted to be in the National Guard for that sense of having worth and being able to help people,” said Lawson. “So, I think that’ll be the same thing with the gym.”