Jimma Dau | My pathway; we don’t always need to follow the beaten track
Jimma Dau is without a doubt one of the best prospects out of South Australia (period). Like many of the absolute top tier athletes coming out of South Australia, he has not always had it gifted. He got cut from teams, he didn’t make teams, has not gone down the traditional pathway. But alas through his God-given talents, and sheer work ethic and persistence he will emerge to be hot property into the NBL and beyond once his collegiate career is completed. His humility is amazing, just a kid that quietly has been chipping away, never perturbed, and just focussed on the day to day process of quietly getting better on and off the floor.
VIDEO: At 6'7'', with a 6'10'' wingspan, with a perimeter game, Jimma has been tested here with a 34 inch vertical which would rival many NBA players in draft testing.
Smart coaches have Jimma on their depth charts right now and he has been a training player on and off with the Adelaide 36ers as well as heading to China on the Melbourne Phoenix’ preseason tour.
At 6’7’’ (6'10'' wingspan), with extreme athleticism and an excellent skillset, and lightning speed (in small spaces), he now has newly found grit and toughness. He will continue the challenging path of heading to Western Nebraska Community College for a year or two before hopefully transferring to Division 1 NCAA.
We think Jimma’s story is a great one for all athletes, parents, and coaches to come up to speed with. Don’t make it? Don’t give up. Hit a wall? Go harder. This article is a phenomenal read into insights of a rapidly emerging athlete, his journey so far, he gives some great advice to all athletes as someone that is living the life, striving to be great, making sacrifices, and building positive networks in order to achieve success.
VIDEO: Showcasing Jimma playing Premier League, shooting, scrimmaging and handles in a workout.
Over to Jimma
Q: Tell us about you journey so far through juniors to now?
First of all, I would like to thank and acknowledge Andrew Jantke for his ongoing support on and off the court for every athlete he has come across. Just like myself and many athletes would say his commitment to every individual person shows the kind of caring person he is as he just wants to see everyone prosper into a better person.
Like many African basketballers such as Majok Deng, my basketball journey began ironically after my soccer coach recommended that I try basketball as I was to what some people would consider too tall for soccer. (Don’t get it twisted I was a killer on the pitch). In 2015 I was recruited by Aciek Mayen to play within the Adelaide Warriors organisation, I was very young and raw at the time but I was willing to put in the time needed to develop and grow. I was also competing against Lat Mayen (Ed: 2020 Nebraska Commit and HPHN Featured Athlete), Chol Luk, Biar Garang and Akol Deng a couple of young athletes from the Warriors which already gained a reputation within the SA basketball community. During this time I was also involved at GTM with Rashad Tucker working on my handles. These were my earliest foundation.
PICTURED: National South Sudanese Basketball Tournament with Adelaide Warriors. This pic includes; Machar Machar, Jimma Dau, Chol Luk, Biar Garang, Ngor Daniel, Madit Daniel, Lual Diing. We did a past piece on this GREAT event which you can access here: By Jye Watson | Sudanese Basketball, Doin' it for Love
2016 was the first time I played organised basketball. I started in division 5 playing for the Central Districts Lions basketball club. I ultimately worked my way up and earned a spot in under 18 playing for Peter Berry. I was very fortunate to play and develop around great talent such as Biar Garang, Brent Hank (Ed: u at Albany Snr), Koen Sapwell (Ed: Development player Cairns Taipans), etc, every practice was intense and it made me realise my flaws and how I could overcome this. I also made the under 18 SA metro team under Andrew Jantke, this was perhaps my turning point mentally, the team had great talents and it made me realise how much harder I have to work to get to where I want to be at.
2018 was my first premier league season playing lions under Ricky Simpson. Our team was very young and inexperienced playing at that level but we were hungry and keen for the opportunity to play in the best basketball competition against the best athletes in SA. Although we fell short that year, I was rewarded the Frank Angove medal (best district player under 23) which furthered my basketball resume.
PICTURED: In his first season of playing Premier League (now called NBL1) Jimma was recognised as the best player aged 23 or under by the league.
Q: What has your NBL experiences been like so far?
Moving forward from juniors into seniors, I was invited by Joey Wright to attend trainings with the Adelaide 36ers players. This was an exciting time for me as I just wanted to learn and develop. Trainings were very different as I was the youngest player there but the atmosphere was great, I was surrounded by players who made a living out of basketball. I was shy at first but lucky I was under the wing of a player I already knew (Majok Deng) as he guided me and told me “Just be yourself, at the end of the day basketball is meant to be fun so don’t apply extra pressure on yourself”. From then on, I was just keen to learn anything the other players would tell me. At the end of the day, everything is a learning opportunity to better yourself.
South East Melbourne Phoenix
In 2018 I got invited to attend a tour with the SEMP over in China. I was very excited for this opportunity as they were a new organisation within the NBL and I was very fortunate that my talents were being recognised. A week before the trip, we had training bootcamp just to learn the system. I met a lot of great players that already made a name within the NBL. For a week my roommate was Adam Gibson. The way he carried himself, everything was very professional, his organisation, his preparation, his recovery. I was young but by the way he carried himself made me realise there is more to basketball than just the court. Overall the China trip was very eye-opening, it taught me how to carry myself and the attributes I need to obtain if I want to make basketball my profession.
PICTURED: Jimma has toured with the Melbourne Phoenix (NBL) to China. Here he is meeting fans during preparations for the tour.
Q: What does a typical week entail for you in terms of court work and strength and conditioning?
Every day is an opportunity to improve on from yesterday. At the end you can’t waste your energy dueling on the past, it’s the past for a reason. I approach every single day differently to how my body is feeling/healing. Overworking is real and sometimes you need rest but I try to limit that as an excuse. My biggest obstacle right now is gaining weight and strength. I’m very lucky to have connections from people such as Sean Baker with Peaq Conditioning and Alf Connolly with Cross Fit to help me within the process. I also participate in a lot of running over at the snakepit with several of my mates. Overall my week is dedicated to the betterment of myself on and off the court.
PICTURED: Jimma post-workout with renowned Adelaide basketball strength and conditioning trainer, Alf Connolly.
Q: How have you sought guidance for your journey and what qualities do you look for to bring people into your circle of trust?
The people within your circle contribute to your overall success. You adapt to the environment you are placed in. I am super fortunate to have always had great role models guide me and tell me better. I don’t like judging people because everyone’s story is different, but in order for me to trust you, I would have to know your values, priorities and where you are trying to get in life. If it doesn’t line up with my values than we can’t be around one another.
PICTURED: Jimma with (from L to R) Magok Manyang, Lual Diing (frmer U of Wyoming), Angok Anyang, Anyang Garang ( U of Oklahoma Freshman), Chol Luk, Isaac Atuer and Dut Deng.
Q: With so much talent gifted and worked for in your case, is there anything you’ve learned along your journey that you would advise youngsters coming through?
Without a doubt I consider myself to be a top tier person and an athlete. I’ve had my ups and downs, we all make mistakes but the best and positive way to achieve success if believing in yourself by all means. There will always be people trying to bring you down but the way you direct that energy can take you either to where you want or elsewhere. Be patient, learn whenever and wherever possible, don’t be afraid to ask questions and just become the best you can you be.
Q: Has basketball as a sport helped you grow off the floor and if so how?
Q: I’m a big believer in having a circle of positive athlete networks. A community of like-minded peers if you will. Guys you work out with, lean on for advice and inspire.
Q: What role and support do your family and friends play in your basketball development?
I’ve always surrounded myself with friends that care and want to see me reach my full potential as not just an athlete but as a person, from Adelaide Warriors, to the U18 state team, NBL and other basketball experiences, I’ve always been around people that I can either learn from, or teach them. Now I am taking the responsibility of emerging into a role model for the Sudanese community, like it or not we are all role models, someone somewhere is always watching and learning from you, it is up to us to direct and show them the positive side. My family has always believed in my basketball dream which I am very grateful for, having a good and positive support system around you is very crucial in life.
Q: What’s next for Jimma Dau?
Inshallah, I just want to be forever happy with myself and the decisions I make, I don’t want any regrets, where my work ethic takes me I will be happy because I know I have earned it.
Coach Janx: We can't wait to see Jimma represent his family, the Sudanese community, the state of South Australia, and all his supporters with pride!!