Germany-born American rapper, Jermaine Lamarr Cole, popularly known as J Cole, is a multi-talented artiste with one Grammy Award under his belt. The superstar has been in the rap game since 2007, and has been a known protege of Jay Z.
However, many people don’t know that the rapper has another interesting talent which is basketball. J Cole basketball dream started when he was a little kid. He played high school basketball at the Terry Sanford High School in North Carolina. In fact, when at St. John’s University, Cole was among the top 10 walk-on players for the St. John’s Red Storm men’s basketball team.
But Cole’s basketball life was still known to only few people until recently when he played in the Canadian Elite Basketball League. Even that, not all people will know because the Canadian league is not as popular as the NBA. And that’s for a fact!
In this article, however, we will be discussing the five most iconic moments in the star’s basketball life. These are moments you probably may not know unless you’re told.
Five Moments of J Cole’s Basketball life
2012 NBA All-Star Celebrity Game
On February 24, 2012, J Cole participated in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game which was played at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida. The game featured other artistes such as Ne-Yo, and rapper Common.
During the game, Cole displayed his amazing basketball skills to thousands of fans who trooped to the arena. He played alongside comedian Kevin Hart for the Eastern team.
The notable moment for the rapper during the game was when he stole the ball from NBA Hall of Famer, Scottie Pippen. The game however, ended with Cole scoring 8 points, and recording 2 rebounds.
Tryout with Detroit Pistons
In August 2020, the Detroit Pistons extended a tryout offer to J Cole. This came as a surprise to many as the rapper has never been a professional NBA player. He took part in the 2007 NBA draft but ended up being undrafted. He has since become an unregistered free agent.
“…we see you out here. You said they only got 12 slots on the Pistons. Hit us up for that tryout.,” the Pistons tweeted at the rapper.
However, Cole turned down the offer even though he was training and preparing himself for such offers. According to Master P, a rapper and former NBA player, Cole wanted to play in the NBA and was hoping to get a contract.
“When I talked to J. Cole, he was like, ‘You know, big dog, you did it. What do you think I would have to do to make it happen?,” Master P told TMZ Sports in August 2020.
.@JColeNC we see you out here. You said they only got 12 slots on the Pistons.
— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) August 4, 2020
But fast forward in March 2021, Cole’s manager shared a video of him training with the Pistons. This became a key moment for fans of the rapper as they hope he would finally become an NBA player. Unfortunately, Cole did not make the final cut.
Short Stint with African Basketball League
J Cole played for the Rwanda Patriots in the Basketball Africa League (BAL) in 2021. It was his first professional basketball stint.
BAL is a collaboration between the NBA and FIBA. The league features 12 teams from 12 countries on the African continent. According to the rules of the league, each team will have up to 13 players, at least nine of whom are citizens in their respective team’s home country and up to four from other countries.
In one notable games, Cole recorded three points, three rebounds and two assists in just 18 minutes for his team, the Rwanda Patriots Basketball Club.
However, the rapper could not spend much time with the league. He left the team in late May 2021, citing family obligation as a reason for his decision.
4. Professional Basketball Career in Canada.
Exactly a year after his short stint in Rwanda, J Cole’s basketball career took yet another wonderful turn.
On May 20, 2022, Cole signed a contract with the Scarborough Shooting Stars which play in the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL). This deal became the the guard’s second professional basketball endeavor.
However, after playing just four games with the team, Cole left to embark on a musical tour. In an interview with media personnel, Cole said: “I was telling the guys in there like, ‘I’m going for these shows, I’m not sure if I’ll be back.'” He furthered that: “…but just in case, I had to let them know how incredible this was. The players, the coaching staff, the organization, the league, it’s a crazy thing when you see it on paper, when you see what’s actually happening, and they made me feel so welcome.”
Two ’embarrassing’ dunk attempts
Haven discussed only positive moments of Cole’s basketball life, it would be fair to make a mention of his fails on the court. These fails are also part of the rapper’s memorable moments, and therefore, cannot be left unmentioned.
In May 2021, videos of J Cole fall-landing on his face after a dunk attempt, surfaced on social media. In these videos, Cole appeared to have dunked successfully but ended up hitting his face on the ground. Luckily for him, it all happened in an empty training arena, and not in a game where thousands would be watching in the arena, with hundreds of thousands more streaming live online.
Another ‘unfavorable’ moment was when he missed a dunk during the dunk contest of the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend. Soon after Dennis Smith Jr. jumped over Cole and dunked, the rapper also picked up the ball to try. However, he failed. All these happened in front of thousands of fans in the Spectrum Center which has a capacity of 20,200.
Did J. Cole play basketball in college?
No, Cole never played college basketball. He didn’t even get a second of playing time with the St. John’s Red Storm men’s basketball team of the St. John’s University. At that time, Cole was a first year sophomore.
But later, Cole became part of the top 10 players who were walk-ons for the school’s team.
In an interview some years ago, the then head coach of the Red Storms, Norm Roberts, expressed his regret saying; “had I known who he was, the music would have been great on road trips. I’m definitely a fan.”
Did J. Cole get signed to a basketball team?
J Cole, in May 2021, was signed by the Rwanda Patriots Basketball Club which plays in the Basketball League of Africa. It was the rapper’s first contract to play professional basketball. He however, left after playing few games.
In May 2022, Cole signed to play professional basketball for the Scarborough Shooting Stars who play in the recently-launched CEBL.
Why did J. Cole leave NBA?
Rapper J Cole has never played in the NBA. But he at times participate in NBA-organised events such as the famous NBA All-Star Celebrity Games.
Though Cole had a chance with Detroit Pistons, he could not go ahead. Therefore, Cole has not played in the league till date.
Is J. Cole in a basketball league currently?
The answer to this question is simply NO! Currently, rapper Cole is signed to no professional basketball team.
His last stint as a pro player was in the CEBL where he played for Scarborough Shooting Stars. He left the league in mid June last year.
J Cole may be known for his music, but his basketball skills are nothing to overlook. He has had many memorable moments on the court, and his passion for the sport is evident. These top 5 moments in J Cole’s basketball career show that he is more than just a rapper; he is a skilled basketball player who has made his mark in the sport as well.