What started with a few shooting lessons between David Jones and a young boy from Germany at an overseas Shooting For Success basketball camp some nine years ago has developed into a life-long mentorship and relationship built around basketball training. The relationship may even land the boy a spot on a spot on a high-level professional team in Germany.
David Jones and Luca Sarnovska’s basketball story began in Ulm, Germany, at the site of one of David Jones’ basketball clinics. Jones, a former professional player in Germany would regularly hold clinics in the town.
When Luca first attended the camp he was just six years old.
Luca liked Jones’ camp so much that he and his father traveled to Budapest that same summer, so many years ago, to attend a second Shooting For Success camp. It was love at first shot.
So, the budding baller began working with Jones privately any time the American coach was in town. A relationship began to form, and, before he knew it, Luca’s family was talking to Jones about traveling to San Antonio so that Luca could train with Jones in the United States.
Luca wanted to train at Jone’s gym.
He wanted to be immersed in Jones’ basketball culture.
At age 12 Luca made his first across the globe visit to Shooting For Success headquarters in the north San Antonio community of Stone Oak.
The young German player not only trained with Jones on the court, he lived with him too. Jones, his wife, their daughter who also played basketball and Luca shared meals and even some chores together for four weeks.
The Jones family welcomed Luca into their home – and hearts.
“We were starting something special,” remembers Jones. “Luca was eager to learn and willing to work hard – which is how a player has to be if he’s living with our family and coming around our gym and program.”
Luca’s dedication to a shared passion for basketball secured additional opportunities to visit San Antonio and train with Shooting For Success as the years went by.
This year is Luca’s third and most important visit yet.
Luca Sarnovska is now training to play professional basketball in Germany, much like his mentor. He is already playing for a team from which a good number of players end up climbing to the professional level at some point. But not many do so at age 15 or 16.
“I will be working with Luca on skills like consistent 3-point shooting but I will also be focusing on Luca’s mental game,” says Jones. Jones will be looking at aspects of Luca’s game such as whether he’s in control of his emotions on the court. Jones will report back to coaches in Germany following Luca’s visit.
“I don’t want to see him thrown onto the court with grown men unless he’s absolutely ready,” said Jones.
A typical summer day for Luca in San Antonio is not your typical vacation schedule. Luca gets up at 6:30, eats some cereal, and leaves with Jones for the gym by 7. He hustles to get in a brief shooting workout before summer camp kids arrive around 8. Luca attends basketball camp until 5 and hangs out until team practices begin around 6 or 7. Following practice he trains with Jones and Jones’ daughter, Mailee, a recent Vietnamese Women’s National Team Player. They return home as late as 10 or 11 and have dinner before going to bed.
Luca says they rarely deviate from the schedule. But that’s what he expects and enjoys as someone whose goal is to play pro ball. “Ball is life to me,” Luca said.
This year, Luca brought a teammate from Germany with him. He also has his eyes fixed on playing at the next level. Both agreed that training with Jones and playing American style basketball will help them improve at a faster rate compared to training in Germany. The young men said basketball in the U.S. moves at a faster pace with fewer foul calls allowing for more continuous and tougher play.
“This is where I need to be,” Luca said. “DJ (Jones)’s camp is what made me want to become a basketball player, it has changed my life.”