State of Texas Holds Talks on Great Nijal Pearson to Play Abroad Amid COVID, Rise of the Bobcats, Coaches TJ and Danny Kaspar

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SAN ANTONIO – When Texas state basketball’s all-time leading scorer Nijal Pearson signed his first professional basketball contract last year, he never imagined the start of his journey. professional in hoops would take him thousands of miles – to two European countries in a matter of months – in the midst of a pandemic.

“It was definitely a crazy experience. I started in France, I stayed from August to January around,” Pearson said in a Zoom interview with KSAT.

The former Bobcats star guard signed with Roanne Choir Basket of the French Pro A league in May, and was thrilled to have the opportunity to play in a top league. But like many other professional sports leagues around the world, the 2019-20 Pro A season has been canceled due to the pandemic. In addition to not being able to play many games, Pearson was away from loved ones and his little girl.

“It was a lot of training and a lot of isolation when I was in France. I haven’t seen my family. It was a lot of FaceTime, ”Pearson said. “(France) had a curfew so I had to be in the house at a certain time.”

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In January, Pearson signed with a professional team in Finland. The move allowed him to work harder on his game and overall mental preparation, which he admits is the most surprising aspect of playing professional basketball abroad.

“Everyone at the professional level is a good basketball player, so it’s preparation. I thought I was really good at preparing for college, but it’s a whole new level, ”Pearson said. “I thought I was a really tough player in college, but I had to find another level of tenacity.”

Pearson also kept an eye on his former teammates and friends in San Marcos, including Texas State Head Coach Terrence “TJ” Johnson, who led the Bobcats to the first-ever Sun Belt Conference Men’s Championship. regular season program.

“It’s a great accomplishment. I’m very proud of them and take my hat off to him because they’ve sacrificed a lot and been through a lot, especially in a COVID year, ”Pearson said.

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Their relationship dates back years when Johnson coached Pearson in AAU basketball. Johnson was instrumental in recruiting Pearson to the state of Texas and helping him grow on and off the pitch. It has become more than a player-coach relationship.

“Were very close. He’s my daughter’s godfather,” Pearson said. “We clicked really early because I was a hard worker and he was a hard worker. He challenged me and I would challenge him.

When Johnson took over the program on an interim basis after former head coach Danny Kaspar resigned last September, Pearson knew TJ was ready.

“He is ultra-dedicated. He wants to be the best, ”Pearson said. “He wants to keep improving and making the people around him better. He really loves what he does.

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Pearson also thanks Kaspar for helping him reach this point in his career. Pearson broke the school scoring record after four seasons with Kaspar as the head coach.

He said he was not contacted by Texas state officials while investigating Kaspar’s alleged racist remarks to former players. Pearson said he had kept in touch with Kaspar and had recently “had a good conversation with him”.

“We’re fine, me and him,” added Pearson. “I respect Coach Kaspar and hope he is doing well.”

While at Texas State, Pearson helped lay the groundwork for the current group of players who will be looking to repeat themselves as conference champions next season and hopefully make it into the NCAA tournament. He is still good friends with the current squad and many other former teammates. He said the bond they’ve built over the years in San Marcos is something that will continue to be a part of him.

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“It’s deeper than basketball and I feel like that’s why they respect me, why they constantly show love to me,” said Pearson. “I’m there if they need advice or if I need advice from them, it’s both ways. We’re all just good people, genuine guys.

The connection to the state of Texas and San Marcos is why Pearson wanted to create his own youth camp this summer for the children of the region. Growing up in Beaumont, Pearson said the camps played a key role in helping him embark on a path that would eventually lead him to college and the pros.

The camps are a great experience. You get information, meet friends and just compete for a weekend, ”Pearson said. “Of course, we are going to cover the basic fundamentals but also the mental aspect of basketball.”

The camps were also some of Pearson’s first experiences hanging out with college players and coaches or just walking around a campus.

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“Just show there is a way. If you stay focused and find your goal, and keep striving to do what you want to do, you can achieve it, ”said Pearson.

This summer, Pearson will compete with Kimchi Express in the 2021 Basketball Tournament (TBT). He also intends to return to Europe to pursue his career abroad. The NBA is still a career goal, but Pearson remains patient.

“I would love to play there, but I’m not going to turn down an opportunity. Europe is a place where I can continue to develop myself and play high performance basketball, ”said Pearson. “I’m excited to continue playing basketball and competing, and when the time is right, I’ll be there.”

Anyone interested in attending Nijal Pearson’s Bobcat Legends Basketball Camp July 8-10 can find information here.

(Image of Nijal Pearson performing with the Chorale de Roanne in France. Image provided by Pearson via Chorale de Roanne.)

Copyright 2021 by KSAT – All rights reserved.


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