Lamont Jones (183-G-90, college: Iona, agency: Stanislav Ryzhov) was one of the crucial additions to Mornar's squad this season. The high energy US guard joined the team from Southern Montenegro in January and participated in all big battles that Mornar had in Montenegrin League and Balkan League.
You were born in Harlem, New York, a part of New York City with famous basketball courts and playground legends. Who were your role models on the basketball court while growing up?
Well growing up in New York its so many different people to model your game after but I was different, when I was young and even now I played with a chip on my shoulder, a lot of confidence and with a lot of cockiness so I never really took after someone elses game. I always wanted to be my own person, I felt and still feel that I was that good. I never wanted to be compared to anyone, I always wanted to be mentioned as one of the best out of NY. It was the way I was brought up. As I started getting older and really paying attention to the game and studying the game, one of the people I looked up too and kind of could relate my game to was Burtt Steven (189-G-84, college: Iona). He was relentless in the way he approached the game and the way he scored, man it was crazy and his intensity and cockiness just kind of always had me like man we play just alike. On top of that we were both from Harlem and from around the same neighborhood and so that would be a person who I would say I have looked up to and compared my game too.
You attended a well known Rice High School, a school that produced great players such as Felipe Lopez (197-G/F-74, college: St.John's), Keydren Clark (180-PG-84, college: St.Peter's), Andre Barrett (180-PG-82, college: Seton Hall) or Kemba Walker (185-PG-90, college: Connecticut). Then you transferred to Oak Hill Academy and led them to 41-1 record. Oak Hill is a powerhouse in US high school basketball.. How important for your career was to play with and against great player at such a tender age?
Playing against the top players in the world was just another way to measure myself and take my game to the next level. Going to Rice High School was always a big goal of mines and a big dream. If you went to Rice that meant you had a chance and you were someone. After a couple of years there I transferred to American Christian, which I played with some more great players and it gave me a opportunity to grow nationally and to also play against some more of the great players across the world, once that school closed down I went to Oak Hill, but a lot of people dont know I almost went back to Rice but once Oak Hill came calling it was a no brainer I had to go. It gave me a chance to play at the top high school in all of the world and it allowed me to grow as a player and a man. Going to these schools prepared me for life after high school and college and helped in my growth as a man and a basketball player. Going to three different schools in three years helped me because I had to learn different offenses, new teammates, learn how my new coaches were and what they wanted out of me so in my eyes it prepared me for pro basketball and in the midst of all the preparation it was just a overall great experience playing with and against other great players. It helped my confidence in a big way, just knowing I could compete with the best of the best the world had to offer.
Your college career was very complicated to say the least. The first choice was the University of Southern California but due to the head coach departure you committed to Arizona and had two good seasons there leading the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament. Then you decided to transfer to St.Johns but as your former head coach at Rice was coaching there NCAA did not allow that move and you ended up at Iona leading them in scoring your senior year with 22.6ppg (3rd overall in NCAA). Iona had a good team with you and NBA guard Scott Machado (188-PG-90, college: Iona, agency: Priority Sports) in the backcourt as well as Taaj Ridley (201-G/F-90, college: Iona) inside. Are you satisfied with your college career and would you change something now?
As of my college career people make it more difficult then it actually was. I had my heart set on going to USC. Everything about the place was amazing and coach Tim Floyd was one of the best coaches at the time, we had a top recruiting class coming in, it was going to be great but once all the NCAA violations started to pile up I decided to go to Arizona where I had a great two years. Finishing one of the top teams in America and going to the elite 8, after that my grandmother got sick and so I transferred home to Iona to be next to her. As far as St. Johns I never committed there, so that story was false. I chose Iona because it was the best place at the moment that would give me a chance to get back to the NCAA tournament and to play the way I wanted to play while being closer to my grandmother. I had a great time there and my coaches and teammates were great. They helped me grow up and get better as a player and for that I will forever appreciate them, and as much as I look back on things I could have or would have changed in my college career I always find myself saying at the end that I wouldnt change a thing because then I wouldnt have had the opportunity to meet my coaches and the great teammates/brothers that I was able to play with and for. I also wouldnt change it because I wouldnt have gotten to play in front of my family and friends as much as I was able to the last two years of my college career.
Even though you attended Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Pre-NBA Draft) you were not drafted by any NBA team so the choice was simple- to stay and play in NBA Development League or try your luck overseas. How did you take that moment of your life and do you think you deserved a shot in the NBA after a stellar high school and college career?
I mean it was a tough time. After the draft was over I was suppose to sign with the Celtics and things didnt go as planned and so I was pretty down and out after that I really didnt know what my next move was going to be. I did know that I wanted to make money at this game and whichever opportunity gave me the best shot to do so thats what I was going to go with, and so overseas gave me that opportunity. I do always believe that I deserve a shot in the NBA but thats not my call, I dont obsess myself with it like I did before, I feel like if it happens it happens. Plus I love playing where Im at and Im playing the game I love as a job, it doesnt get much better then this.
You decided to take the second option and go abroad. The first stop was Kumamoto Vorters (Japan-NBL). You ended the season as 2nd best in scoring and assists. Why did you choose to start your professional career in Japan instead of Europe?
I was young and so I didnt know the ends and outs of the business. On top of that I was making a decision on my own with no one else to lean on for help or advice and so just wanting to play and get back in my element of the basketball world, I decided to go with my first offer which was Japan, I didnt think it would hurt my career in anyway if I played and put up the numbers I was capable of. Being young I just jumped at the first opportunity to play the game I love.
After a season in Arab countries (Qatar and Saudi Arabia) you finally signed in Europe and moved to Finland (Lapuan Korikobrat). After just half a season there, while leading the league in scoring, you decided to take Mornars offer and come to Bar, Montenegro. Could you give us more details about that move? What motivated you to go from Northern Europe to Southern Europe at the middle of the season?
The move gave me an opportunity to win a championship and also play in two leagues at the same time. It was going to help my stock and get me seen by more teams and people. It also was a great way to help an up and coming team get into one of the big leagues in Europe (Adriatic League).
It did not take you long to become one of Mornars leaders. Mornar played in three finals (National Cup, Balkan League and Montenegrin Championship) and even though you lost all of them you were a positive surprise this year. What are your impressions now, after the end of season?
Well I think thats just my personality. Im a natural born leader and so once I was able to figure out my teammates and coaches, what they wanted from me and learn the plays, I was able to get comfortable and in a rhythm and help lead our team to 3 championships. I think as the time went on we got better and more comfortable with each other and it helped us become a better team. It was a great season, its very hard to get to or win one championship but we made it to 3 and all though we didn't win any it was a great experience for our organization and a great learning experience and like I said we made it to 3 championships in one season. We grew and we started building towards a great year next season. We now know what it takes to be a championship caliber team and I think going into next season we will have a big chip on our shoulder and we have something to prove. We want to be the top team in Montenegro.
In the finals against Buducnost you played another New York great Omar-Sharif Cook (186-PG-82, college: St.John's, agency: BeoBasket) and really left a great impression, leading your team against Montenegrin powerhouse Buducnost in one of the closest series ever. What do you think about fan support in the city of Bar and overall how did you like Bar and Montenegro?
Man our fans were great. It was a real home court, Im just mad we couldnt bring them home a championship. As the year went on our crowd got bigger and more fans started to take notice, I think it was great for the city of Bar. Bar is a great place. The people are wonderful and so welcoming. The weather is also nice so thats a plus. I think it has so much more growing to do as a city and I think in a couple of years it will be by far the best town in Montenegro. I think with the way our team is taking off, its going to help build Bar into a great place to live and great place to play! Playing against the top team in our league and the top team in the Adriatic league in Buducnost I think they helped us learn a lot and also showed us what a championship team and organization look like. They had a couple bad loses this season between losing their players and coach but their players and organization stepped up and found a way to win a championship that's what championship organizations do and I think playing them in two championship series really helped build our character and mindset going into next season. We want to be the best team in Montenegro, and this season we took a step in that direction and I think we are now preparing to be the best, most importantly we feel collectively we can be the best.
Even before the end of season you decided to stay in Mornar for one more year and lead them in Adriatic league next season. Do you think Mornar can be competitive in Adriatic league?
I think we are going to be very competitive next season in the Adriatic League. Especially because we have a lot of the same pieces coming back and we will be a very experienced group together and maybe we will add some more pieces that will help us be even more competitive. I think its a great opportunity for us and we are going to do some great things next season. We are excited about the move up to the Adriatic League and I think the city of Bar is just as excited!!
Thank you for the interview. Enjoy your summer vacation!
Latkovic number one in Montenegro for round 19 (by Court Side) - 14 hours ago
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Guard Milos Latkovic (196-G-93, agency: Dynamics Global Management) had a great game in the last round for Lovcen, receiving a Court Side Player of the Week award for round 19.
The 23-year old player was the main contributor (35 points, five rebounds and four assists) to his team's victory, helping them to outclass Jedinstvo (#7, 7-10) with 34-point margin 98-64. Lovcen maintains the 4th position in Montenegrin Erste Liga. They would have been even better if they hadn't lost a few games... [read more]
Guard Milos Latkovic (196-G-93, agency: Dynamics Global Management) had a great game in the last round for Lovcen, receiving a Court Side Player of the Week award for round 19. The 23-year old player was the main contributor (35 points, five rebounds and four assists) to his team's victory, helping them to outclass Jedinstvo (#7, 7-10) with 34-point margin 98-64. Lovcen maintains the 4th position in Montenegrin Erste Liga. They would have been even better if they hadn't lost a few games earlier this season. Lovcen will need more victories to improve their 10-7 record. In the team's last game Latkovic had a remarkable 72.7% from 2-point range and got four three-pointers out of 6 attempts. He just recently signed at Lovcen, being already a very valuable addition to the team. Milos Latkovic has solid league stats. He is league's best scorer averaging so far 22.3ppg. Latkovic is in league's top in assists (4th best: 5.0apg) and averages impressive 2.3spg,55.0% FGP and 41.7% from behind 3-point line.
The second best player in last round's games was another Lovcen's star - young Vasilije Knezevic (202-C-96). Knezevic had a very good evening with 27 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists. Of course together with Latkovic he helped Lovcen with another comfortable win outscoring the lower-ranked Jedinstvo (#7, 7-10) 98-64. Lovcen's 4th position in the standings has not changed. His team's 10-7 record is not bad at all. Knezevic is one of the most experienced players at Lovcen and similarly like Milos Latkovic has a reputation of one of team's most reliable players.
Third on the list of top players last round was center Boris Jeknic (203-C-89) of Ulcinj (#5). Jeknic showcased his all-around game by recording 23 points, six rebounds and seven assists in the last round. He was a key player of Ulcinj, leading his team to a 92-83 win against slightly lower-ranked S.Centar (#6, 7-10). Ulcinj needs these victories very badly if they think about getting closer to top teams. Their record at this point is 9 victories and 8 lost games. Jeknic has a very solid season. In 17 games in Montenegro he scored 13.1ppg. He also has 5.7rpg and FGP: 64.2%.
Other top performing players last week: 4. Djoko Salic (213-C-95) of Sutjeska - 18 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists 5. Milan Latkovic (184-G-86) of Ulcinj - 24 points, 4 rebounds and 9 assists 6. Marko Koljevic (191-G-90) of S.Centar - 32 points and 3 rebounds 7. Nikola Rondovic (207-PF-91) of Ibar Rozaje - 20 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists 8. Marko Ljujic (207-C-90) of Ibar Rozaje - 14 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists 9. Dejan Bjelic (209-C-90) of Jedinstvo - 18 points and 7 rebounds 10. Dragoje Djokovic (190-G-93) of Ulcinj - 15 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists
The Player of the week is chosen based on efficiency calculation, but also including game result, importance of the game, if played recorded double-double/triple-double, etc. The efficiency formula is a combination of various formulas used by different basketball organizations/leagues. We got involved many basketball scouts and journalists to assure it's accuracy. The formula: 1.5*PTS + 3* (REB+AST+ST+BL-TO) - 2*BSAG - 4*PF + 3*PFRV + 4* (2FGPM+3FGPM) + 1.5*FTM - 3* (2FGPA-2FGPM) - 3* (3FGPA-3FGPM) - (FTA-FTM)
The Player of the Week awards are presented by Court Side. Court Side is the global leader in basketball management, and is widely regarded as the most dynamic and innovative company of its kind. It was the first Basketball Agency to launch its own website, and the first to have its own database. Court Side has more agents and manpower within its organization, than any other competitor, and its international network of basketball contacts is still unparalleled.
Buducnost is the new-old winner of Montenegrin Cup. Even though nothing has really changed this time Buducnost could be considered lucky because one shot decided their destiny and this time this shot was in the hands of Antabia Waller (191-G-88, college: Auburn), Mornar's sharp shooter who missed a wide open shot from a central position to secure a big win for his team. But Buducnost won at the end (72-68). Buducnost started the game much better and opened it with a 20-11 lead in the firs... [read more]
Buducnost is the new-old winner of Montenegrin Cup. Even though nothing has really changed this time Buducnost could be considered lucky because one shot decided their destiny and this time this shot was in the hands of Antabia Waller (191-G-88, college: Auburn), Mornar's sharp shooter who missed a wide open shot from a central position to secure a big win for his team. But Buducnost won at the end (72-68). Buducnost started the game much better and opened it with a 20-11 lead in the first quarter which was defended by the halftime. However, in the third quarter Mornar played much better, Octavius Ellis (208-C-93, college: Cincinnati) protected the basket and Buducnost's big men got in foul trouble. The last quarter was a very exciting experience for everybody in the gym because Mornar got the lead back and Buducnost's rotation did not bring any results. But in the last few minutes thanks to outstanding performances by Nemanja Gordic (193-PG-88) and Suad Sehovic (197-G/F-87) Buducnost won the game and celebrated another Cup title. Sehovic and Gordic scored 15 points each for the winners and most of these points came in the crucial moments. On the other side former Buducnost's talent Boris Bakic (193-G-86, agency: BeoBasket) scored 17 points.
KK Ibar Rozaje (Erste Liga) signed 25-year old Slovenian guard Stefan Vukovic (196-98kg-92, college: Blue Mountain) after he was tested there shortly. He played recently at KK Splosna plovba Portoroz in Slovenian Liga Nova KBM, but left. In 9 games he had 10.4ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.4apg and 1.2spg this season. The last season Vukovic played at Studentski Centar Podgorica where in 6 Erste Liga games he recorded 3.5ppg and 2.0rpg. He was named to SSAC All-Academic Team in 2015. Vukovic graduated fr... [read more]
KK Ibar Rozaje (Erste Liga) signed 25-year old Slovenian guard Stefan Vukovic (196-98kg-92, college: Blue Mountain) after he was tested there shortly. He played recently at KK Splosna plovba Portoroz in Slovenian Liga Nova KBM, but left. In 9 games he had 10.4ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.4apg and 1.2spg this season. The last season Vukovic played at Studentski Centar Podgorica where in 6 Erste Liga games he recorded 3.5ppg and 2.0rpg. He was named to SSAC All-Academic Team in 2015. Vukovic graduated from Blue Mountain College in 2015 and it is his second season as a professional player.
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