CS Meaux has recently announced the recruitment of young Australian player, Jontee Brown this season. This comes following his departure from the Köln 99ers. Brown spoke with Rollt.’s Dylan Cummings about his transfer to the French team, his ambitions for competing in the French league and his ultimate goal of eventually making the Aussie Rollers senior national team.
Why did you choose to move to CS Meaux?
“The choice to sign with Meaux was a personal one, it came about when I was discussing the scenario with fellow Australian, Jeremy Tyndall, he and I have played together a lot throughout the years and are good mates. He wanted to experience Europe for the first time. Meaux spoke to us both and allowed us to sign together which is going to be a great experience for us both. The management has been great to deal with at Meaux, this is a great help for us as players coming into the team from abroad, it makes the process so much easier. This move also allows myself to improve by continuing to play in Europe which is great for my game moving forward. I also got to travel around Europe last season and Paris was my favourite city, so being close to the city is also a benefit.”
You played for Köln 99ers for a season under a great coach like Mat Foden, what are some of your fondest memories of Mat?
“Nothing but praise for Mat, he is a great coach who I enjoyed playing under a lot. He’s a great character which makes playing under him that bit easier when it comes to long hours travelling and days of training. He’s definitely someone I hope I can play under again in the future, and I wish him all the best with his future coaching.”
Why did you decide to leave Köln?
“My decision to leave was a personal choice, I had some decisions to make back in Australia before decided to go back out to Europe. I want to also play every weekend at a high level which I think I will get more of an opportunity to do so in France compared to RBBL 2. I’m still only new to wheelchair basketball and I need to play more at a high level to continue to improve my game.”
Why do you think Köln has been relegated to RBBL 2?
“I think we were relegated just due to having such a young team, we just lacked experience in close games, guys with that added experience to help us finish games we probably should’ve won. This was something we struggled with. I think an extra guy who can score the ball would have been great just due to our inability to put the ball in the hoop at times. It was a great season to play alongside that group of guys and it has helped improve my game so I can’t fault the way we competed.”
What new challenges do you think you will face in the French league?
“The French league will be tough; they have some great teams who can compete at a high level. I have seen Le Cannet play in EuroLeague last year. The challenges will be fitting into a new team. It’s always tough coming in as an outsider and trying to find your role, this will be something that will take time. The change of cities from a much larger city to a smaller one will also be a challenge to adapt to, moving with Jeremy and having played together a lot previously will hopefully make this challenge a little easier. The different coaching may also factor in, but I am very excited to get started in this league and to hopefully help win some games in the 2019/20 season.”
How do you think the styles of play will differ between the Meaux and the 99ers?
“I think the styles of play will differ at times, I have watched some film and Meaux seem to like to play fast which is how most teams in the French league play. I guess we will find out more with regards to how they play when we arrive and get settled in. Each coach and team are different in how they play. For myself its about coming in and finding where I fit in and how I can help the team and everyone around me. Once we arrive, we will get straight into it and I am sure we will be brought up to speed with how they want us to play. For me being new it’s just about getting to know how everyone plays at Meaux and making sure I can fit into their style of play. Those guys have been playing together for a while, so I just want to come in and do what’s best for the team to win games throughout the season and push for the playoffs.”
The Australian league season starts as soon as the European season ends; how do you feel about this?
“This is my first year of playing all year round, its physically and mentally tough. I missed the first round of the Australian league due to still playing in Europe but to be honest it’s great, I really enjoy playing and training all the time. The Australian league is spread out, so we get weekends off which is good to have a rest but having to come back and play also keeps you in a great mindset to be prepared and ready to head straight back into training and games in Europe. It’s also a great chance to come back to Australia and showcase how much you have improved whilst you have been in Europe but also to try and help your NWBL team win and play alongside all your mates again.”
Is it annoying not having the chance to enjoy a lot of summer weather?
“Missing summer is probably the worst thing about playing in Europe, I really don’t know how you all deal with the European cold winters, but I will be going into my fourth winter in a row which isn’t that fun at all. I might have to go home over Christmas just to get some Australian sun which I would love, but hopefully I can catch some sun before the start of the season.”
What are your goals for next season?
“My goals for next season is to be consistent all season, to improve my game and to make the playoffs. Last season was tough, and I imagine this season will be another opportunity for me to grow as a player on and off the court. I think I can improve all aspects of my game. I really want to improve my game and become a more consistent and dominant scorer, I feel I lacked in scoring points last season due to the tough opposition so its important for me to find new ways to score the ball and also get my teammates good looks inside the paint. Its just about improving myself and growing as a player to hopefully work my way towards the Australian Rollers final twelve one day and hopefully make a Paralympics someday.”
How have the Aussie Rollers been preparing for the Asia Oceania Championships?
“With the Asia Oceania Championships coming up everyone is in full training mode. For the Aussie Rollers, having such big distances between players and cities means the training camps we hold are very important as its one of very few chances we are all together. The Australian league also allows players to compete against each other on a regular basis which is great but due to our season only having rounds every second weekend it relies on players to train together or alone most of the time which can be tough. As past results have shown our country do an amazing job to medal at most major tournaments which is a credit to all involved.”
You train often at the Australian Institute of Sport, what have you learned from former players like Brad Ness and Troy Sachs?
“Getting up to the Australian Institute of Sport is great, it’s a place you enjoy being at with all the world-class faculties we can use. For us athletes we enjoy the rare occasions we get to spend there. Brad Ness and Troy Sachs are some our best athletes to ever wear an Australian jersey. Unfortunately for me, I have never really got to experience both players, Brad I got to experience last season where he dropped 42 points on us in the final which was definitely and eye-opener to just how good he is now but I couldn’t imagine trying to guard him when he was in his prime, he’s someone I definitely look up to and try to learn off when he’s around. Troy I’ve never seen play or have played against, having only started playing wheelchair basketball three years ago I never got the chance. I’ve seen footage of how dominant he was, and I would have loved to have seen him play live, he’s still around and involved in a lot of coaching clubs here in Australia which is great.”
You’re a 4.0, have Bill Latham and Tristan Knowles took you under their wing, if so, how?
“Yeah definitely, with Bill being based in Europe most of the time I haven’t really experienced being around Bill a lot, he’s an amazing athlete and definitely someone I would take points from, he’s played at the top level for years and has a lot of knowledge. Tristan has been the guy who has taken me under his wing the most, he’s probably the reason I am at the level I am now. When I first begun playing he was the guy I looked up too, the way he shot the 3-ball and the way he plays was something I loved, I am lucky enough to play alongside him and train with him every week so it’s an unreal experience to go up against a guy like that every week. He pushes me, which is something I appreciate, and he is always looking out for me. So, he has been someone who I have a lot of time for and listen to a lot. From training to games, he has always given me constructive criticism which is something I take on board.”
What’s the best piece of advice Murray Treseder has given you?
“Murray is a great guy who is still involved with Basketball Australia, I’ve had a little bit to do with Murray, but a quick fact is he used to coach in my city and his family is from nearby in Victoria.”
And what did he say?
“The best piece of advice from Murray was probably to view punishments as a reward because it’s rewarding you to become better, to try have a different mentality on punishments. It’s something I still remember when I’m going through a tough session, to view it as a reward.”
How do you think French culture differs from Australian culture?
“I think it will be like my last European experience, I am excited to live in a new country, it’s a new start and I am sure I will soon find out the differences between the cultures.”
What will you miss the most about Australia when you are abroad?
“Definitely the summer, I love the warm weather and it’s something I will miss the most.
It’s always tough moving overseas and not seeing your family for an extended period of time, its not like you can just drive home, it’s a 22-hour flight to Australia from Europe so that can be tough, I hope I can get them to Europe this year.
My mum’s cooking for sure haha, something I take for granted but she is an unreal cook so I will definitely miss that, it doesn’t matter how well I try replicate her meals it’s impossible.”
What do you think you need to do to break into the Australian senior men’s team?
“For me it’s about continuing to train hard and work towards making that final twelve one day. With still being new to the game there is a lot of things I still need to learn, so it’s about playing as much as I can which is why coming to Europe is a great asset for me. It’s also important to learn from my mistakes and listen to the advice I get from the players and coaches around me so I can continue to grow my game to one day be in the Australian team.”
How would you describe your style of play?
“I am an all-round player, but mostly I am an outside shooter. I enjoy being on the glass and rebounding the ball on offence and defence. I enjoy shooting the ball and helping my team succeed in whatever they need me to do, if that’s to score, rebound or play defence I am happy with playing whatever role they need me to play to win games.”
Has anyone specifically influenced you to play the way you do?
“Yeah definitely, Tristan Knowles from the day I met him. He’s helped craft my game and made me work hard every time I hit the floor; he loves to let me know when I screw up but he’s always the first guy to congratulate me when I do something good. It’s what I love about him, a pure competitor on the court. There are lots of others who are always helping me with my game, Damon Fent is another guy who talks me through how to work with a low pointer and it’s something I take on board, he is a very underrated player who can straight out ball. There has been lots of others and my list could continue on but I am sure I will meet other people throughout my career who will influence my game.”
What piece of advice has stuck with you throughout your career?
“You only get out what you put in; everything is earned, not given.”
If you could do a training session with three other players from anywhere in the world male or female to improve your skills, which players would you choose and why?
“This is tough, being only new I haven’t had a lot of experience of playing against guys or watching some of the older guys, but if I have to pick I would go with Patrick Anderson, the way he finds different ways to score is amazing, in any situation he finds ways to put the ball in the hoop. Alex Halouski I got to play against him whilst in Germany and he was someone I was shocked by, the way he’s so patient and how he can get shots off every time, it seems like he has so much time to be ready and to shoot the ball it was amazing to watch but very hard to defend. Matt Scott, his speed is crazy, he is one of the quickest guys up and down the floor and his ability to press on defence has challenged players and teams for years.”
Rollt. would like to thank Jontee Brown for the interview.
Jontee Brown Profile
Date of Birth: 24/12/1997 (aged 21)
Hometown: Bendigo, Victoria
Started playing: 2016
U23 debut for Australia: 2017 U23 Asia Oceania Qualifiers – Bangkok, Thailand
Disability: Severe reactive arthritis in the left knee and aynkolising spondylitis in the spine
_CS Meaux, FRA (starting September 2019) (Pro Club)
_Kilsyth Cobras, AUS (2017-Present) (NWBL)
_Bendigo Braves, AUS (2016-Present) (Local Competitions)
_Köln 99ers, GER (2018-19)
_2017 Australian Junior Championships – Bronze (Victoria)
_2017 U23 Asia Oceania Qualifiers – Bangkok, Thailand – Bronze (Australia)
_2017 U23 World Championships – Toronto, Canada – Bronze (Australia)
Interview: Dylan Cummings | Photo: Steffie Wunderl