Javon McCrea on TalkBasket: Mental health, becoming a father and preparing for the upcoming season

Photo: court-side.com

Javon McCrea, the all-time leading scorer at the University of Buffalo, has played several seasons overseas, but it hasn’t always been a smooth journey.

McCrea battled with mental health in the past, but he has learned to make his overall health and his mental health specifically a priority thanks to therapy he received.

McCrea has played in Germany, France, Puerto Rico, Israel and Japan.

His latest season in Japan was with the Yokohama B-Corsairs where he averaged 19.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and shot 53.3 percent from the field.

Currently a free agent and spending his summer in Germany, McCrea spoke about various topics including his mental health, becoming a father, looking forward to eventually signing with a team and preparing for the upcoming season.

Q: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I’ve watched your recent basketball workout videos on YouTube. How has your summer been in Germany?

A: This summer has been one to remember. My routine was shooting 1000 shots a day and also 2 hours a day on strictly conditioning. My conditioning drill consisted of hill workouts where I sprinted up the hill while dribbling a basketball 20 times. I want to silence my critics who say my conditioning was poor. By staying in Germany, I got a chance to be around my son who is also half German. This has definitely been a different summer for me. But I really enjoyed the change.

Q: How has becoming a father changed your life?

A: Becoming a father changed my life for the better. I’m a lot more patient with things. I take things a lot more serious. I also get a chance to teach my son things and that whole process is just humbling. Becoming a parent isn’t always easy though. You’re put in many stressful situations where you’re pressured to make the right decision. I’ve done well with this process, but there’s always room for improvement. Becoming a father also teaches you a lot about time management and sacrifice.

Q: What else have you been up to besides basketball this summer?

A: Besides basketball, I’ve been doing community work. I visit hospitals and do activities with the kids. I go to the basketball courts and play fun games with the kids at the court. I also play Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo Wii, I make music. I have a lot of hobbies to keep me busy.

Q: Tell me a little bit about your philanthropy and how you got into it.

A: I’ve always tried to be really involved in the community. It all started when I was still in school when we would go visit hospitals etc. with the whole team. I still try to do that whenever I have the time. For example, this summer I spent a lot of time with kids around the area, playing games with them, talking to them about basketball, travel and all that. It’s easy for me cause I’m a big man so I easily attract attention and kids are naturally curious. So I use this to my advantage. Kids love attention. I make sure I show them as much attention as possible, the youth will be the ones taking care of us one day. I’m also currently setting up my next hospital visits and I’m in talks with one of the private hospitals about setting up a small basketball tournament for the kids next summer.

Q: What has been your favorite part about playing overseas?

A: My favorite part about playing overseas is seeing new cultures and adapting to new life. Also, one of my favorite things is trying the new foods every country has to offer. That has been a wonder. A few other of my favorite things is meeting new people. I’m a social butterfly so anytime I get a chance to make a new connection I love it.

Q: How have your experiences differed playing in different countries?

A: They differ in culture. Some cultures do things a certain way than others, but I don’t believe any is wrong just simply different. For instance in Germany, your money is guaranteed. In Latin America, only one month is usually guaranteed. It’s a bit of a trick and you have to make sure you read the full contract before signing yourself into a situation you aren’t aware about.

Q: I’m sure it feels like time has gone by quick since your college days. How did your time and experience at Buffalo help you prepare for professional basketball?

A: I grew up a lot being in college and also with all the success plus failures I endured in college it taught me to be level headed on everything you do. I don’t expect anything from anyone and I understand that you have to earn everything you get in this world. It also taught me how to be social in life. I was a sociology major so I know a lot about how to interact with other people.

Q: You’ve done other interviews and have been vocal about mental health. How have you dealt with it in the past to help get you to where you are today?

A: In the past, I used to let it depress me and I really didn’t know where to go to get help. Now that I’ve gotten the help I’ve needed, I feel a lot better and like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel much more free spirited again. I’m also not as negative as I used to be. And also it helps a lot with my game. Today, I understand that at the end of the day, basketball is just a game and there’s a lot more serious things going on in the world. The world is bigger than basketball. Also, I’ve learned that I’m not the most important person out there. The world doesn’t revolve around me and other people need help just as much as I do. So if I have my last dollar, I’m willing to give that to the homeless man on the streets. I’ll find money somewhere else but maybe he won’t.

Q: With being a free agent, what has the process been like searching for a new team to play with this upcoming season?

A: I love the grind of this. I don’t just sit back and wait for my agent to bring me something. I make the connections myself. I make sure that I get my name out there as strong as possible. I understand this business thing is all about who you know.

Q: Have you been in touch with any teams?

A: I’ve been offered and in touch with teams from Spain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Israel, Canada, Mexico, Hungary, France and Japan.

Q: Are you aiming at getting a shot at the NBA someday, or are you content with playing and making a life overseas?

A: I want to play against LeBron James. That’s my goal and I will achieve it. As long as I continue working the way I am. I have no choice, but to be an NBA Champion.

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