By Carter Chapley
St. Louis, MO
After a disappointing loss in Davidson, North Carolina, there was not a lot of talking done in the Saint Louis University Billikens locker room. Coming off an excellent game and looking to build on that, the Bills had dropped a game they knew they both needed to and should have won.
Before Head Coach Travis Ford was able to speak to his team, one man stood in front of the group and apologized for what had just transpired.
“I told the guys that’s 100% me no matter what,” Jordan Goodwin said in the Chaifetz Pavilion practice gym during the first team work out after the loss. “I know its team game but when you got two of your best players combine for 6 points, you’re not gunna win any game. We know what we did on that court was terrible basketball. Not Saint Louis basketball not Team Blue basketball.”
After the departure of four seniors last season, it was clear that the immediate success of the team, and the future of the program was left on the shoulders of a pair of Juniors. Publicly, Hasahn French acts as a quiet leader; one who exhibits all the traits a coach would want for younger players to follow. Whereas Jordan Goodwin is the vocal captain of the team and in many ways is the modern face of Billiken basketball.
The first to speak up in a timeout, or to provide encouragement to a teammate on or off the court, Jordan speaks for the team in good times and in bad and never loses composure when asked to do so. Win or lose, the Belleville native is there to answer the call. There is a reason that when asked at the beginning of the school year “who is the most welcoming/influential teammate you’ve met so far?” Tay Weaver, Javonte Perkins, Yuri Collins, and Terrence Hargrove all said without blinking some variation of “Jordan Goodwin”.
Since coming to SLU as part of the first generation of the Travis Ford era, Jordan has been leaned on as a leader and is just as much part of the culture shift in the program as Ford is. A coach can be effective but to have a leader in the locker room like Jordan to set the tone for players like the aforementioned freshmen and transfers can be invaluable. While he was not without help in the past, leaning on guys like Javon Bess for guidance and to share the on-court load, Jordan has always been a leader on the team.
But now he is ‘the guy’. He knows he has to do more for the team than just be a locker room voice. “Last year if I had 6 points nobody’s gunna look at me like that. We had scorers on the team… that wasn’t really my role.” Jordan said after the Davidson loss, “But I feel like now, since all these guys look up to me, and I’m the captain now, the leader, and I bring a lot to the team. There are just some nights, especially in the A-10 where I know I can’t have bad nights.”
The pressure Jordan places on himself can be evident at times but it is clear he has elevated his game to the next level. All while maintaining the leadership factor that Travis Ford has described as “Next Level” and “Unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”
To watch Jordan Goodwin play basketball is entertaining for two reasons: the first being he is a very talented athlete. Being just the 10th Billiken in history to reach the 1000- point plateau in his Junior season speaks to that. But the second is the demeanor in which he uses those talents.
The Althoff Catholic gradate plays loud. He draws your attention and demands your respect. Jordan has only one speed he operates at, and that’s hard and fast. He does not shy away from the moment, but he is also the first guy to celebrate a teammate. A ferocious defender who will take on the challenge on the opponent’s best guy, and an offensive force who earns his buckets with effort and toughness. He ranks 9th in the nation in rebounding and no one in the nation’s top 50 comes close to his shorter 6’3” frame.
For every high energy, crowd pleasing, gritty play Jordan makes, there is an equally confusing out of place unnecessarily over the top foul or mistake he will make in the pursuit of helping his team. It is admirable that Jordan’s commitment knows no bounds, but frustrating at times. Fortunately, the good outweighs the bad so in the times in which the more negative side of Goodwin’s intensity flashes through it is more digestible. The most common comparison he gets is to Boston Celtics star Marcus Smart, a Travis Ford product from his days at Oklahoma State.
The Billikens will only go as far as the leadership and skill of Jordan Goodwin can take them. For such a young Billiken team they have certainly proved they are talented, but still they lack the maturity to play consistently. When Jordan or Hasahn are having bad nights, the whole team is having a bad night. Not to say Jordan is infallible, much like Marcus Smart he often uses that high motor personality trait too much and gets his team into trouble. Pressing too hard leading to bad possessions but when the game is on the line, Jordan is a game-changing presence who can win you games on his grittiness and leadership alone.
When it comes to moving forward in the season and bouncing back from difficult losses like the one at Davidson, Jordan has taken the route of be prepared for everyone and prepare for the worst. “It’s different, its conference. Anybody can beat anyone, the bottom can beat the top on any given night. It’s about who wants it, who’s playing hard that day. That’s who’s gonna win.”
The Bills bounced back to win two straight after that loss to Davidson, however the lesson remains the same, but with Jordan Goodwin leading the team, it’s hard to imagine there are many nights where that mentality won’t lead the team on to the floor.