Article by Caitlin Blackmon
Former Shooting For Success Point Guard, Mailee Jones, is about to take a giant leap—The 20-year-old will leave college for professional basketball in China this fall. Jones will be the youngest American ever to declare, relinquishing her full scholarship and eligibility in NCAA ball at Chicago State to chase her dream of going pro.
For a basketball career that began at a mere age of six, leaving the country in pursuit of the game is not something she had to think twice about. That’s because Mailee Jones’ father is former professional basketball standout, David “DJ” Jones, who played throughout Europe for over thirteen years. He was even named the “Shot Doctor” by nba.com for once having “fixed” Jeremy Lin’s broken jump shot pre-NBA draft. This was of course before he built Shooting for Success. While moving overseas to play basketball may come as a surprise to some, the idea of furthering her basketball career in another country is hardly a foreign concept to Mailee. Mailee grew up traveling around the world with her dad attending his games, practices, and later, camps, watching her father work with youth as a coach and trainer. Playing for a team in China is what Mailee sees as a multi-faceted opportunity to not only pursue the sport she loves, but also to advocate for female athletes and the ‘upcoming generation’ she feels has so much potential to change the way athletics are perceived on a global scale. Mailee was upfront with her dad about this opportunity of a lifetime. “I told him, ‘I don’t feel like playing college ball is going to help me conquer the short-term and long-term goals that I want to achieve,” Jones said.Mailee has signed a contract with Sports Entertainment Content Activation (SECA), a top Chinese sports agency, which will assist her in entering the WCBA, China’s professional basketball division. She will compete for a spot on a team, in September. To prepare for these tryouts, Mailee spent her summer days, sometimes ten hours a day, in intense training. She rose early in the morning to run three miles and weight lift, only to be followed by another run in the early afternoon. Mailee would assist her dad with coaching Shooting For Success summer camp, and, the die-hard athlete would end her days with late-night training sessions packed with shooting practice and scrimmages, led by none other than her dad. Mailee also spend the majority of her summer days, as she has for years, assisting her dad with his summer camp.
As for school, Mailee plans to enroll in online classes at UTSA for the spring semester, where she will continue her studies in business administration. Mailee admits it was not easy to walk away from a full ride, and it took a little convincing to get her dad on board. Nevertheless, DJ said he knew that the chance to play professional ball at such a young age is what Mailee has been working towards her entire life. “This (pro ball) has been Mailee’s goal ever since she could pick up a basketball,” said DJ.
Mailee’s mother is Vietnamese, making Mailee part Vietnamese. This bond by blood connects Mailee to the Asian culture of China, which will no doubt help her make a smoother transition to the culture and make her mark. As an American by nationality and Vietnamese by heritage, Mailee trusts that she will be able to relate to the people of China in many different ways, implementing what she knows of basketball and different cultures to impact those around her.
Mailee’s introduction to a future filled with professional basketball will get officially get underway in late September or early October, when she finds out which professional Chinese team she will play for. The Chinese professional basketball league kicks off in October and runs through April. After that, Mailee sees herself returning to San Antonio to, not surprisingly, hit the gym again with her father for additional training. “Training and basketball is truly my life,” said Jones. “It’s intense but incredibly so.”
Jones’ eventual goal is to return to the states to play in the WNBA, when she becomes eligible at age 22.