Just how good is J. Cole at basketball?
Rapper J. Cole may have just gotten the opportunity of a lifetime.
TMZ spoke to Master P — the rapper who once played for the Toronto Raptors in the preseason — who said that “he’s convinced (Cole) is dead serious” about training to play in the NBA. Cole, who is now 35 years old, recently starred in a Puma commercial that seemed to imply he was training hard for hoops (see below).
Then, on Monday, the Detroit Pistons tweeted at Cole and informed him to “hit us up for that tryout.”
That, I’d say is a pretty huge deal. At the very least, he’s getting an NBA team to pay attention:
That brings us to a question we asked on occasion here, as we have with President Barack Obama and Prince: just how good is J. Cole at basketball?
The artist — whose real name is Jermaine Lamarr Cole — told Sports Illustrated in 2013 that he played the sport as a kid but didn’t make it on to a school team until he was cut twice in high school and made it his junior year.
In his sophomore year at St. John’s, he tried out as a walk-on and made it to the final 10 players who would get a second tryout, and this happened:
I had a fear of actually making the team and quickly losing my college lifestyle. I would have had to turn into this guy who had to practice two or three times a day and wake up at six in the morning. Plus I was in love with music and I knew I wanted to rap. So I had to make a decision that I knew was going to change the trajectory of my life. I called my coach from high school. I called one of my friends who was a star player in high school. And I didn’t go the next day. In my mind, I’d have made the team. Who know what would have really happened? But I knew I wasn’t ready for that type of commitment and that lifestyle.
That’s when he said he “decided that basketball was a pipe dream.” But from that anecdote, we know that he was maybe good enough to be a walk-on at a Division I program, and that means he’s got talent.
Per a Bleacher Report oral history, he was a practice player with the women’s team:
Monique McLean: My freshman year, Cole would play with [the women’s team] consistently. He was competitive and physical, but he’d never try to hurt us or anything like that. Sometimes guys who practice with the women’s team are there just to showboat and be nasty and mean—but he was never like that. He was very nice and respectful. … I thought he was decent. His best thing was just getting to the basket, because he’s kind of tall and long. Finishing around the basket, he could shoot a little bit. More like a flasher. I would describe him as a flasher.
Now we get to the highlights: here he is helping out his pal Dennis Smith in the 2019 NBA Dunk Contest … and then juuust missing a dunk:
Still! He has some hops! How do I know? Check out the 2012 Celebrity game!
Yes, that’s eight years ago, and Cole is now 35. But with some training, I’m sure he can still fly.
His shot also looks really good, as this recent training footage shows:
And here he is in a pickup game, looking like he fit in just fine with some elite competition:
Given all this, I’m ready to declare: J. Cole is really good at basketball. Is he NBA good? I’d love to see what happens if he ends up trying out for the Pistons.