BY: MANNY ALVAREZ/JBA WRITER
When the JBA USA International Tour began, the doubters just assumed it would be a showcase for LaMelo Ball and LiAngelo Ball.
They couldn’t have been more wrong.
Je’rell Springer and Curtis Hollis have emerged as two of the top players on this tour as Team JBA USA (7-2) is on a six game winning streak.
It is definitely something they didn’t expect to happen a year ago today.
“I was in junior college one year ago today,” Hollis said. “Getting ready for my season. I was a freshman in college. I didn’t know much about college and didn’t know what to expect. I was a guy getting ready to play a big role for my team. I definitely didn’t think i’d be over here today. I was expecting to be in junior college again, getting ready for my sophomore year, and trying to figure out what Division 1 school I was going to transfer to”
Hollis was at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, where he averaged 6.9 points in 34 games as a freshman before getting his opportunity in the JBA League this summer for the Houston Ballers.
Je’rell Springer, otherwise known as J-rell or Iso, was getting prepared to go to Southern Utah University before his father persuaded him to try out for the JBA League.
Je’rell’s father, Jerry Springer, passed away right before the JBA League season began. Je’rell was unsure if he would join the JBA League, but he wanted to achieve a goal his father and him set when he was a child.
“The push from him is to get to the league (NBA),” Springer said. “That’s what I push towards. I just play the game and prove what I have to the scouts that could be watching, but as far as the NBA, I push for my pops. I’m just pushing to get to the NBA for my pops. That’s my main goal. I push for him.”
Sometimes, basketball is a great way to clear your mind. Springer is playing to clear his mind, but he’s also playing for two.
“He came along in the JBA to clear his mind,” JBA USA head coach Doyle Balthazar said. “He came to focus on basketball, which he has been doing since he was young. This is something his dad wanted him to do. Everything is working out for him. He’s a heck of a kid and a nice kid.”
Springer averaged 26.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game for the Seattle Ballers, leading them to the JBA League Championship game, which they lost 132-121 to the Los Angeles Ballers in August.
Hollis averaged 29.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and five assists per game for the Houston Ballers, leading them to the JBA League Semifinals before losing to Springer’s Seattle squad.
Both players came in under the impression they would be role players. That was not the case as they have emerged as two of the big four players for JBA USA.
As for Hollis, he’s a team player, but has been asked to take the ball to the hole more often.
“In Houston and probably all his life, he’s been a playmaker,” JBA USA Owner/General Manager Lavar Ball said. “He’s built for scoring on the fact that he can run up and down that court. He can score in bunches on offensive rebounds. He’s very long with a nice handle. One on one, you really can’t stop him. If you unleash him on the wing, you can’t stop him. He’s a much better player than just sitting on top of the key, passing the ball right to left and driving every now and then. Nobody has ever told him that he needs to get 30 or 40 points. That’s why he has taken on that role. He’s never been a selfish player, but on the wing you have to be a selfish player. I need the ball in the hole. I don’t need you at the wing throwing all these great passes. He understands that now and has blossomed into the player that he is, which is a hell of a two guard that can also play small forward.”
So far on the tour, Springer is averaging 20.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. He has been the perfect final piece to the puzzle, a piece that was needed when Springer left the game against the Young Pikes with a lower back injury in JBA USA’s 117-115 victory.
“Je’rell is a fantastic player,” Hollis said. “He’s really talented and has done a lot for us. We are the same type of players. We know how to play the game the right way. I love playing with him.”
Hollis has emerged as someone who is considered one of JBA USA’s go-to players as of late, averaging 24 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.5 steals per game. Hollis has scored at least 40 points the past two games and has been a favorite by fans and his teammates.
“Curtis is your favorite player’s favorite player,” Springer said with a smile. “Curtis is the man. He’s going to be in the league making good money some day. He can do everything – rebound, pass, assists and score. He’s a do it all man that you want on your team.”
JBA USA will head to Limberg, Belgium to take on Limberg United Academy on Tuesday, October 30th. Game time is set for 10:30 am PST.