Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and all-conference first-team member Jordin Canada chatted with DieHard’s Tyler Dragon in an exclusive interview to discuss her accomplished career at UCLA, the Bruins’ upcoming NCAA Tournament run, post-UCLA goals and more.
Canada and UCLA are currently preparing for the NCAA Tournament. The No. 3 seed Bruins take on No. 14 seed American University in the first round of the tournament. UCLA has Final Four aspirations. Before the big dance tips off, the Los Angeles native opened up about her journey to becoming one of the most successful women’s basketball players in Pac-12 history.
What made you decide to go to UCLA? (Was also recruited by top-tier programs including Tennessee and Connecticut)
I wanted to be close to home because I wanted my friends and family to come see me play. I’m really close to my family so that was really important to me. Education was also important to me because I know after basketball a degree matters. And I knew with a UCLA degree I could basically get a job anywhere. And just the connections that UCLA has, being in Los Angles and just so many connections there. Also, I just wanted to represent where I came from and represent my hometown. I wanted to create something here. I wanted to create a legacy with the girls that I played with past and present. I didn’t want to go to other schools and just be a part of a legacy and try to continue that on. I wanted to be different. I wanted to be a trendsetter and that’s something that really inspired me to be different.
Four years later, what does it mean to you being the first woman in conference history with at least 1,800 points and 700 assists?
It’s really a blessing and an honor to do that. That’s why I chose UCLA. I wanted to be different. I wanted to create a legacy for myself and to say that I’ve done that is just a testament to how hard I’ve worked towards that goal and I know that it’s not possible without my teammates and coaches for them putting me in position to create that goal of mine.
The Pac-12 Tournament didn’t go how you wanted but how do you like UCLA’s chances in the NCAA Tournament? (UCLA lost to eventual champion Oregon in the Pac-12 semifinals)
Losing to Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament hurt us but I think it’s also giving us motivation to want to be better going into the tournament knowing that we have to put everything on the line. But I think right now our team is at a good headspace. We know what we want. We are working towards just getting better every day and cleaning up some of the stuff that we need to. But I think we’re in a good headspace right now.
How can UCLA reach the Final Foul?
Everybody has to be on the same page. We have to be able to follow a game plan for 40 minutes. We hit adversity many times throughout the season. Just being able to maintain that and overcome it. Going into overtime or being down by a certain number of points, it’s just being able to finish those out. The details matter. Every little inch matters. I think that what’s going to take us to the Final Four is just doing those things.
What do you want your UCLA legacy to be?
I want my legacy to be the impact I made on little girls’ lives. Knowing that anything is possible no matter the height. I know a lot of people talk about how short I am (5-6). And the ability to be able to do the things that I do is just bringing hope to girls like that. Just know that if you continue to work hard that anything is possible. Having that impact I think is what’s most important and obviously the work ethic that I put in.
What would you tell young girls who want to be an all-around player on the offensive and defensive end like you?
I think you have to know exactly what you want to work on and just stick to it. And be disciplined enough to do the little things that matter. Not just focusing on practice but what are you going to do after practice or before practice. Putting in those extra hours of gym time. If people want to be really good at basketball and be an all-around player they are going to have to put in the extra work. Hard work is what got me to this point and watching a lot of film. I think what helped me grow my IQ is just watching so many basketball games whether it be WNBA, NBA or college. Just watching basketball all around and just seeing how you can grow as a player and your IQ. I think once you grow your IQ, you’re able to do more things.
Is the WNBA your next goal?
Yes my plan is to play in the WNBA and play overseas for as long as I can.
Do you have a favorite WNBA team?
No, I don’t have a favorite team.
Who is your favorite all-time WNBA player or player you try to model your game after?
When I was younger I really looked up to Ivory Latta. That was someone I just wanted to be like. I loved her passion and her aggressiveness. Getting older and watching more games I’m starting to get influenced by Sue Bird. Just the way she leads her team and her leadership and making the smart decisions.
What would you like to do after your basketball career?
I want to be an obstetrics and gynecology nurse. (Commonly known as OB/GYN)