No. 10 MBB’s Everyday Jon progresses into unspoken leader

Junior forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua transferred to Baylor in 2019 and has built a reputation as a powerful player ever since. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Michael Haag | Sports Writer

Most people play basketball from youth to increase their chances of getting to the next level of competition. Even then, the odds of moving up to Division I basketball are very slim for a majority of high school athletes. What if I told you there was a wild exception to this in junior forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua? This is a man who didn’t begin playing basketball until he was 16 years old, but has become a national champion and crucial part of a program on the rise to becoming a blue blood.

The forward out of Cameroon can be seen on television actively using his voice to communicate with the team in an expressive manner. However, in Tchamwa Tchatchoua’s eyes, he believes he isn’t a vocal leader, but rather he leads by example.

“Personally, I’m not that much of a vocal leader,” Tchamwa Tchatchoua said. “I’m more a leader by action. Like, I do stuff and I lead by example.”

For head coach Scott Drew, the energy and subtle leadership Tchamwa Tchatchoua brings to the squad is crucial. Drew believes that over the years, Tchamwa Tchatchoua has and will continue to get more comfortable being vocal.

“Well, Jon always gives us great energy and we all feed off of that,” Drew said. “And he’s only played basketball since 16, so sometimes he is vocal, but sometimes the hardest part is to know what to say and where to be, and I think the more comfortable on the defensive end, he’s getting more vocal. And the more vocal you are during the game, it’s easier to be vocal in timeouts or huddles.”

Drew also said the way Everyday Jon carries himself is respected by everyone on the roster. This, in turn, makes him a great teammate and easy to get along with.

“He’s such a likable guy,” Drew said. “Everybody respects his work and appreciates him. So when he says something, we take it seriously.”

Part of being so likable among the squad is attributed to how they impact Tchamwa Tchatchoua directly. He truly loves the team around him and how selfless they play, and said it’s what makes them so dangerous as a group.

“The great thing about our team is that we just share the sugar,” Tchamwa Tchatchoua said. “Every night can be somebody different; I just feel like that’s just our team culture. We just play for the next guy and we just love everybody having success.”

This selflessness is Everyday Jon is expressed through his confidence in the entire team. He truly believes any person on the team can have a career night at any given moment due to their style of play.

“We [are] not a one-man show,” Tchamwa Tchatchoua said. “I feel like every single player on our team, on the bench or on the floor, can impact the game or have a career night.”

On most nights, Tchamwa Tchatchoua and senior forward Flo Thamba share a role fixated around setting screens and getting rebounds. They aren’t asked to carry the load offensively for the most part, but love to step up in whatever role needed.

“We [Thamba and Tchamwa Tchatchoua] just show up to play; basically to help the team [in] whatever aspect is needed,” Thamba said. “Usually we [are] there to get rebounds, set great screens [and] get open looks for our guys.”

Off those screen-and-rolls, Tchamwa Tchatchoua thrives in finishing around the rim. Junior guard Dale Bonner said it’s because of his patience in the lane and belief in the guards that makes him so good in that area.

“I would say he [Tchamwa Tchatchoua] just trusts us guards,” Bonner said. “[He] knows we will reward him at some point in the game. He’s just very patient and when a moment comes, he’s ready.”

A big change in Tchamwa Tchatchoua’s game is his 3-point shooting, something he has worked on over the last several months. This season he has shown he can knock them down and it was thanks to the coaching staff and his teammates along with putting the time in over the summer.

“I always had the coaching staff and my teammates support the whole summer,” Tchamwa Tchatchoua said. “The whole season it was more about me just breaking that barrier and knowing that that three is going to be a good shot.”

Tchamwa Tchatchoua said he thanks those teammates for getting on him about not taking the open 3s, saying it’s why he is where he is today and will continue to get better over the course of the season.

“Having such great teammates, always encouraging me and get on my back when I don’t shoot the wide open shots, that’s the only way I [will] keep on getting better with my shot,” Tchamwa Tchatchoua said.

Tchamwa Tchatchoua will look to continue to push the Bears in the right direction when Baylor takes on No. 20 University of Texas at 11 a.m. on Saturday in the Ferrell Center. The game can also be watched on ESPN2.