Brothers Austin and Justin Jordan thriving together at South Side
A lot of brothers get to share a high school basketball court. Not very often does one get to be in charge of the other.
At South Side, assistant coach Justin takes on that role, for the first time coaching his younger brother Austin, a freshman at the school.
The last name Jordan is no stranger in the city, even if it has been a few years. Justin shined at North Side and is currently the second-leading scorer in school history with 1,462 career points. After his high school career, he headed off to Saint Louis to play college basketball for a year before coming back home to be an IPFW Mastodon. At IPFW, Justin learned the value of not focusing on what your family has done.
The patriarch of the Jordan family, Lawrence, was a star once too. A 1990 graduate of IPFW, the eldest Jordan is the school’s leader in all-time assists (913) and steals (324).
With both a brother and a father who shined in Fort Wayne on a basketball court, the expectation is for Austin to do the same. To his brother, success may just be measured on how much Austin can separate himself mentally from the exploits of the Jordan family.
“He is a quiet kid, he has always been humble. But he knows the biggest thing right now is to not focus on what I did a few years ago and what our dad has done,” Justin said. “Just be yourself. He’s not me, he’s not dad, he is Austin. We all play differently.”
While Austin is being taught the value of being his own player, he sees how to do that without losing what has made his family well known in this city. Instead of abandoning traits of his brother and father, Austin sees himself as more of a hybrid.
“I am kind of a mixture of my dad and brother. I can be pass first or I can score like my brother. In middle school, I was a scorer but now I’d rather try to pass it down to Asher [Blum] and Amari [Hall]. But I think I can do both pretty well,” he said.
Austin began his high school career as strictly a varsity player. In order to keep him fresh, he did spend some time with the junior varsity, but after thriving there, he was brought back to the varsity level exclusively.
The real beginning of finding his footing in his freshman year came on Jan. 6 as the Archers hosted Marion. In a 91-82 win, Jordan scored 11 points, hitting all four of his shots from the field.
Just over a week later, starting junior point guard Mikale Stevenson transferred out of South Side and Austin, who was working in a backup role to him, immediately saw his role change.
Within two weeks, Jordan posted another solid game with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting to go with two assists and two steals in a loss to Bishop Dwenger. And that, as both Austin and his brother see it, is progress.
“He passes it better than I did. With Kale being gone, he has to step up more. He and Marcalin [Hairston] have to share the minutes,” Justin said. “With him being out there more, he has been battling, getting more comfortable as the season is progressing.”
“The speed was different, but [Justin] has told me to just play calmed down,” he says. “I’m focused right now on just shooting my shots. Not everybody knows I can shoot since I came from Marion, but he tells me to not be timid with it, just shoot your shots and be calm.”
Justin works, at times, as the go between with Austin and his father. Lawrence was Austin’s coach just last year in Marion. When Lawrence transitioned to take over the high school girls program, the family was left with a decision on Austin’s future.
Then Justin accepted a position on South Side’s staff under long time family friend and new Archer head coach J.J. Foster and the decision on Austin’s future was easier to make.
“Once I made that decision, it was a no-brainer for my dad and brother for him to come here and I could be with him every day,” Justin says.
Justin is not new to the coaching scene. He works with Always 100 coaching a number of girls teams in their program. His plan was always to be part of South Side’s staff this season under Mike Novell, his own high school coach. When Novell retired in the offseason, Justin considered working with his dad in Marion before Foster’s offer.
“It’s been vital in my life because I’ve always enjoyed helping others,” Justin said. “Basketball has always been in my life so for me to get the chance everyday to help our youth — doesn’t get any better for me.”
Things also aren’t so different for Austin, just with a different Jordan on his sideline.
“My dad would tell me things more calm and he more yells at me,” Austin said with a laugh. “It’s fun though, I am learning every day. He helps me a lot and I am getting good experience.”
It seems like the Jordan brothers have seamlessly figured out their assistant coach/player dynamic. But at the end of the day, they are still brothers with a basketball perdigree and those one-on-one games can be endless.
“We played a lot this summer. Even with the messed up leg, he still got me but I can get him sometimes,
Austin said with a wry grin. “I’ve told him I’m gonna start dunking on him this summer.”