Al-Khor’s American point guard Ameer Jackson is pretty excited to head back to Qatar again after landing a new contract with the Middle Eastern club and should be suiting up for the side by mid-November. The New Jersey native, 26, led the Qatari League in scoring during his last stint with Al-Khor and, having claimed to be in the best shape of his life after recovering from an ACL tear, expects do do even better this time around.
When I spoke to Ameer earlier this month, he wasted little time letting me know how keen he is to land a deal with an NBA team and was looking forward to putting in whatever work necessary to realize his dream. His story was intriguing enough to get us both to a point where we felt like there was a bit more to be said.
Prior to playing for Al-Khor in Qatar, Ameer had a run with Romanian outfit CN Aurel Vlaicu București. The cultures between countries are obviously different and the former Winston-Salem State University star pointed out that fans in Romania have a lot more love for the sport of basketball.
“Romania and Qatar are very different,” he noted. “Romanian fans and such really kinda take pride in basketball, Qataris do too but it’s more of a soccer country.”
As for the differences between being overseas and in the U.S as a basketball player with hopes of going pro, Ameer reckons it’s a lot easier to get scouted when abroad.
“The U.S has a lot of underground players nobody knows about, I can say there are millions of really talented players in the U.S but nobody knows,” he said. “Overseas it’s about business and coming to bring it each and every day to keep your job no matter where you at but the big difference between overseas and the U.S is you’d have a much better chance of getting noticed and getting a deal if you’re coming up overseas.”
Of course, we touched on racism again. In our previous interview, Jackson claimed to be numb to the plague after living in the U.S for most of his life. “Yes of course really all my life,” he replied after being asked if he’s experienced the pangs that pretty much come with being black in the U.S. “But I feel like this comes with being in America.”
Asked if he’s ever had to deal with it while abroad, his response was way more surprising. “No, never overseas. Never.” Ameer declared.
Playing overseas does have its perks, but the challenges are of equal measure. And, for Ameer Jackson, being a world away on his own has been one of his biggest struggles, although he loves living in Qatar.
“I love the adjustment and I love Qatar as well,” he remarked. “I got a girlfriend but she stays in the U.S for now. We’re thinking of having her do her schooling online so she can come live with me for a year.”
Video games have been his go-to when he isn’t playing or practicing. It does help with the loneliness.
“I’m a big online video gamer, play a lot of Apex Legends, 2k, and Call of Duty,” he revealed. “I also like to stretch and work on my body in my free time as well.”
The conversation eventually waded to the perennial GOAT debate. Ameer admitted Michael Jordan was the better player from a talent perspective but says he considers LeBron James to be the best-ever, claiming to have idolized the four-time champion while growing up. Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook, though, has since taken over as his favorite player and the one he models his game after.
“I think MJ skill-wise is better but I’ma have to go with LeBron, and I did grow up idolizing LeBron,” he said. “I loved LeBron but then once I got older I really got in tune with Russell Westbrook… Russ took over since he made a name at UCLA. I could also relate to his aggression and confidence on the court.
“Me and Russell same height, play the same position but, between MJ and LeBron, I gotta go with Bron. Mike footwork was crazy, though”
You could check out our first interview with Ameer Jackson right here.