The NCAAW Tournament has been packed with early upsets
Josiah-Jordan James’ leadership has been taken to new heights this year and it culminated on Saturday night. While his leadership on the court was a significant factor in leading Tennessee to an SEC Tournament Championship, his attention to detail off the court is just as impressive.
After losing in the second round to Michigan on Saturday night, there was clearly a lot of visible frustrations and emotions coming from the Tennessee players. Tennessee guard Kennedy Chandler broke down in tears on the court after the game as Michigan HC Juwan Howard came over and shared a word of encouragement with him. All season long, it has been known that Chandler is likely headed to the NBA after his debut year in Knoxville.
During the post-game press conference, Chandler was asked about his future in Knoxville. Before Chandler could even look up to answer the question, Josiah-Jordan James stepped in and stepped up. James had his teammate’s back when he knew that Chandler was clearly in a very emotional state.
“With all due respect, he won’t be answering any questions about his future today,” James said.
Simple, concise, and to the point. James knew that his friend wasn’t in the right mindset to answer the question, so he took the attention away from Chandler. And that’s perfectly understandable. He gave Chandler the opportunity to hold in that answer until he, himself, is ready to answer.
The question in itself isn’t unfair considering it has been a storyline the entirety of the season. If anything, the answer just shows James’ maturity and awareness and someone who has a considerable amount of experience talking to the media and respect for his teammates.
After that question and answer from James, Kennedy Chandler was asked about the moment with coach Howard after the game, to which he was able to fill in the gaps.
“He said to keep my head up,” Chandler said. “It’s tough for me, and he knew I wanted to get the win. I know him. I’ve played with his son since, like, 4th grade. So I know him for a long time. He’s a great coach. I love him. He told me to keep my head up and you played your heart out, that’s what he told me.”
After the game, @umichbball Head Coach Juwan Howard comforted Tennessee's Kennedy Chandler. pic.twitter.com/RHTLTdK3Xy
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 20, 2022
There will be plenty of time to break down the season numbers for Josiah-Jordan James in the next week. In the month of February and during the SEC Tournament in Tampa, the junior jack-of-all-trades was lights out from both a scoring and defensive perspective. But again, the off-the-court moment that stands out from Saturday is James’ leadership.
Not in the locker room or the huddle, but in the national press conference for everyone to see. Josiah-Jordan James once again showed why he has the kind of leadership that every team would want on their squad.