The Junkyard dog is tough, nasty, gritty, first to the floor and most importantly never going to back down from any person, moment, or opportunity. It’s not the guy who scores the most points, or who makes the highlight reels, it’s the guy whose impact is felt via his passion, physicality and willingness to lay it all on the line for a W.
Welcome back to the place where THE Junkyard Dog in College Basketball gets awarded, on a bi-weekly basis. Yes it’s a weekly award presented bi-weekly, befitting the junkyard dog that surely isn’t constrained to the rules of conventional wisdom. It’s been a slow couple of weeks in college basketball between finals, Christmas break and COVID cancellations there hasn’t been nearly the volume of games that we’ll see the rest of the way, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a few Junkyard Dogs make their presence felt. The guy who stood out to me the most over the last 2 weeks was an unsung hero from a team that picked up its biggest win of the season, Tennessee. And that man is Josiah-Jordan James.
JJJ joins previous winners KD Johnson (Auburn) and J’Wan Roberts (Houston) on this illustrious list of Junkyard Dog of the Week Award recipients. He was nominated after his big time performance in helping Tennessee knock off previously unbeaten Arizona in a slugfest that went right down to the wire. It was a huge win for the Vols, and guys like John Fulkerson and Kennedy Chandler have gotten most of the spotlight, and deservedly so considering their efforts. However, the guy who impacted the game in ways befitting this award was clearly JJJ, who was a menace defensively (2 blocks and 2 steals), a problem on the offensive glass (3 OReb’s and several other tipped balls) as well as a constant energy provider as a clear leader on the floor. Need some proof? Check out this steal and one-hand yam, and the subsequent fiery reaction.
JJJ was a 5-star recruit in the 2019 class but has had trouble finding his footing early in his career, but in year 3 he has seemed to settle into his role as a grimy workhorse. His ability at 6’6” to guard all 5 positions and battle on the glass has been huge for Tennessee this year and a major key to their success thus far. That ability to impact the game on the defensive end, as well as his energy and passion are defining characteristics of a Junkyard Dog, and those kinds of sequences are moments that make you love College Basketball. And it wasn’t just that play, check out how he gets around this screen, closes out and blocks a shot into the stands (and the stare down to top it off).
There are so many guys in college basketball who will get shine this season for big time performances, but finding little gems like this one from JJJ is to me what the sport is all about. It’s obvious to look at a box score and say man, without John Fulkerson putting up 24 and 10 the Vols would’ve been screwed, and of course that’s true, but the same could be said about JJJ and what he provided. The columns on the scorecard most look at don’t tell the whole picture, and the intensity and effort he played with possession after possession lifted his teammates, and moreover got the crowd whipped into a frenzy, something almost everyone noted after the game as being the loudest environment they could remember in Knoxville. Huge win for the program, and huge night for Josiah-Jordan James who only averages a little over 6 ppg but is an essential cog in this Tennessee machine that looks primed to compete for an SEC Championship. So congrats to the Vols and congrats to JJJ for taking home the 3rd Junkyard Dog of the Week Award. Make sure to check out Tennessee and look for this guy to make plays that make you fall in love with the game, and come back for next week’s award (in 2 weeks).