‘Everyday Jon’ shifts athletic focus to sideline leadership

Fifth-year senior forward Jonathon Tchamwa Tchatchoua throws down a dunk against West Virginia on Feb. 13, 2023 at the Ferrell Center. Lariat file photo

By Tyler White | Sports Writer

Fifth-year senior forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua has become a household name for the men’s basketball program over nearly the last five years at Baylor.

Given the nickname “Everyday Jon” for his impressive work ethic and strong leadership, Tchamwa Tchatchoua said he is striving to make his final weeks with Baylor all the more outstanding.

After transferring from UNLV following his freshman year, Tchamwa Tchatchoua sat on the bench as a redshirt player and learned from teammates, some of whom ended up becoming national champions. He said it meant a lot to him to get advice from the players before him and to grow in leadership to encourage the team he is on now.

“A constant change of my roles and expectations and just the environment around me has meant a lot,” Tchamwa Tchatchoua said. “It has allowed me to be able to first come in as a new guy, not knowing what to expect, and just follow the lead of guys like Freddie Gillespie, MaCio Teague and Davion Mitchell — and then overall, when those guys left, to kind of pick up a little bit of that leadership role.”

The Douala, Cameroon, native said he has always focused on what is happening in the present to make the most of it before moving on to the future.

“‘Next up’ is my mindset, which is, I focus on what’s next up; I am not focusing on what’s going to happen in five months, three months, four months,” Tchamwa Tchatchoua said. “I focus, ‘OK, this rep, I’m going to do it the best way possible ever.’ So when I show up to practice, show up to games, I’m not thinking about anything else — schoolwork or anything. I’m like, ‘OK, this next 15 minutes, I’m going to have to dominate and be the best version of myself.’”

The 6-foot-8-inch forward was an instrumental piece of the 2020-21 national championship, which showed him what it takes to go on a deep postseason run. Bears head coach Scott Drew said there are great upperclassmen on this year’s team who are approachable and easy for the younger guys to lean on throughout the season, especially someone like “Everyday Jon.”

“I mean, Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, there’s not many people who have played on a national championship team, and he’s got a fountain of knowledge and wisdom for that,” Drew said.

After a devastating knee injury that sidelined him in 2022, Tchamwa Tchatchoua said it was challenging to continue to be a strong leader for the team while doing rehab. However, with his initial return 357 days later and his full return this season, he said he has been able to do much of the same and encourage the team throughout games.

“We have new guys, new leadership,” Tchamwa Tchatchoua said. “We have great leaders like RayJ [Dennis], but he is a new guy in the league, a new guy on campus and everything, so I just talk a little more. He is not the type of guy who talks a lot, so I need to be more of that voice every now and then.”

Freshman guard Ja’Kobe Walter said Tchamwa Tchatchoua is always telling the team what to expect as it heads to the court before games. Walter added that when something goes wrong on the court, Tchamwa Tchatchoua shares what he has experienced before and how the team should continue to push through and overcome.

“He’s just always encouraging, just with his experience and just letting us know that even though things go wrong, we can always turn it around,” Walter said.

Although Tchamwa Tchatchoua has never been a primary starter for Baylor and has historically come off the bench, he said he has been grateful for the opportunity to be a leader on and off the court. He said that even though he doesn’t get a ton of minutes anymore (100 minutes across 18 appearances this season), he has been able to guide the younger players.

“I don’t play 35 minutes a game, … but just because of my attitude and who I am, they believe that they can listen to me,” Tchamwa Tchatchoua said. “They can talk to me, and I can calm them down. It’s just like a great practice for me.”

Tchamwa Tchatchoua, who played in his 100th career game against Kansas City on Nov. 14, 2023, said he is grateful for the Baylor community, which has supported him throughout his years in Waco. Although he is finishing his playing career with the Bears, he said he couldn’t be more grateful to the fans who showed love through the ups and downs.

“I really believe that as soon as everything is said and done, I will have left Baylor a better place, so I am definitely proud about that,” Tchamwa Tchatchoua said. “I’m proud of being part of the team that made history and still [is] not done with history.”

With March Madness on the horizon, the 2022 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year is 21 points away from 500 in his Baylor career (479).

Tyler White is a senior Journalism major from Yorba Linda, California, with minors in religion and philosophy. He is most looking forward to developing his writing and reporting craft in the Lariat and to work alongside other writers. As a member of the Baylor Coed Cheer team, he enjoys supporting all Baylor sports. After graduation, he plans on going to grad school and eventually working in publication for the music industry.