A great passion for basketball and a huge work ethic have helped
transform from a role player to a team leader this year as a senior guard at Davidson Day (N.C.)
He has also handled the Jordan name well, too, according to his father, Larry, and famous uncle, Michael.
After being a substitute as a junior, the 6-foot-2, 175-pounder is serving as captain and averaging an impressive 17.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists. He has turned in high games of 28 and 26 points so far.
Larry, who is one year older than Michael, told MaxPreps, "It (pressure) was one of my concerns, but he has been able to handle that really, really well. They definitely have a great relationship and talk all the time. He's been a valuable resource that Justin has been able to tap into."
Famous uncle Michael agrees.
"He handles it well. I haven't seen any problems with it," said Michael Jordan. "He doesn't identify me as a person on a pedestal. His parents have taught him (that there are two people) and he sees me as uncle Michael. He's pretty well-rounded and his foundation is pretty solid."
Justin, who only saw his uncle play a couple games when he was very young, concedes, "It kind of does (add pressure), because people obviously expect something out of you. I have my own goals and what I expect of myself. I'm just trying to be the best Justin Jordan that I can be."
Larry Jordan actually faced a similar situation with Michael when they played for Laney (Wilmington, N.C.).
"I never really felt overshadowed, because I was able to see his work ethic close up," said Larry. "I played sports all my life, but I wasn't as passionate about basketball as Michael was. I was more of a handy man, mechanical like my dad."
Though he didn't play in college, Larry did put in one year with the Chicago Express of the World Basketball League at age 26. Unfortunately, his career was short-lived because he suffered a shoulder injury that wasn't completely healed for almost three years.
Meanwhile, he took young Justin to games and open gyms and coached him in various leagues for eight years.
When Justin was 3 years old, he taught himself to roller skate in less than an hour even though his family assured him that he would not be able to master it.
"The best way to tick him off," Larry said, "is to tell him he can't do something."
Justin admitted, "I wasn't that good, but over the years I've gotten better and better. When I was little, I was a pretty good shooter, but I couldn't handle the ball at all. My dad has pretty much taught me everything I know. A lot of my game resembles him."
Uncle Michael points out, though, "What I saw (when Justin was young) was a passion for the game of basketball. For me that's the first sign. If they love it, they will work hard."
The NBA legend said over the years he has talked to his nephew about such things as confidence, work ethic, footwork and shooting. He has also stressed for Justin to "watch and study the game. His father has been more hands-on."
Comparing Justin to his own sons, Marcus and Jeffrey, Michael said his boys were more interested in playing AAU basketball, while Justin has spent a lot of time doing drills and basic fundamental work.
Larry revealed that for the last several years, those individual workouts have been led by ex-NBA point guard Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues, who is the head coach at nearby United Faith Christian Academy (Charlotte).
"That's when he really made a big jump," Larry said of Bogues' tutelage. "He broke things down in terms of ball handling and made him see the game through the eyes of a point guard. He has been really, really huge in terms of helping Justin develop."
Justin returned the favor by scoring 26 points in a recent loss to Bogues' team and he is pleased with his new take-charge role.
"It's working out pretty well," he said. "I like challenges. I feel pretty comfortable. I feel like I'm transitioning smoothly. One of the main things is that I'm attacking the basket and creating better shots for other players. I feel defense is effort. That's one of the things that is pretty natural. I want to be a complete player."
He added that his work ethic, which is praised by many people, "is one of those things that I got from my dad and uncle. I saw how successful they were and the only way I could be successful was to work hard."
Since last year Michael said he has seen Justin's ball handling and shot improve dramatically, along with his overall point guard skills.
"He's just touching the core of what he's capable of achieving," he said.
First-year coach Joel Justus is quite happy to build his young team around Justin, because seven seniors graduated last spring and all of them are playing college basketball.
"He's an incredible athlete. He gets off the floor well (32-inch vertical jump). He has a desire to get better," said Justus. "He's a bit of a sponge when it comes to coaching. He is a self-made player. He's a prototypical combo guard. We expect him to be a leader and he has handled it magnificently. He has a hard-hat approach to his game and to our team.
"His mid-range game is his strength. He is able to attack the basket and puts tremendous pressure on the defense by being able to create his own shot. He's been very consistent recently with his rebounds. I've been hard on him to have an all-around game. Justin has been a role player, but now the burden of success rests squarely on his shoulders. The kid wants to be a great player."
Larry knows his son will continue to improve because "He does something every single day with basketball."
Justin is already the total package — he carries a sparkling 3.7 GPA and is a prime target for the Ivy League.
Though the scholarship offers have yet to pour in, Justin emphasized, "My real goal is just to go to college whether I play basketball or not."
Justin will probably never be another Derrick Rose (his favorite player), but uncle Michael says the future is bright for his talented nephew.
"It depends on his progress and if he goes to the right school. He has potential. His passion and energy for the game is so strong that I think the sky is the limit for Justin."