Ballin’ since birth: Jaime & Jordan Printy
Jordan and Jaime Printy boast the same blond hair, blue eyes, and big, bright smiles. That much — the sharing of such physical characteristics — isn’t too unusual for siblings.
But sharing a smooth, Division-I jump shot? Not so common.
Jordan, 22, and Jaime, 20, play basketball at Indiana State and Iowa, respectively. To say the sport has been significant in their lives would be an understatement.
You know how most people claim to have participated in something “ever since they can remember?”
Jordan and Jaime have played since before they can remember. Just ask their father.
( Daily Iowan video feature )
“It sounds bad,” says Jeff Printy, 49. “But we bought Jordan a basketball hoop before he was born.”
Jeff, a 1980 graduate of Cedar Rapids Washington High and a two-year player at Kirkwood Community College, adored the game — and still does. His high-school sweetheart, now wife, Kelly Printy, 48, was no slouch on the court, either. She played basketball at nearby Cedar Rapids Kennedy, and she excelled in track. She ran sprints at Iowa.
It was like father and mother like son.
Jeff watched Michael Jeffrey Jordan and the Chicago Bulls play, so Jordan Jeffrey Printy watched the Michael and the Bulls play. Father had choice words for Bull center Bill Cartwright. Naturally, so did Jordan Printy.
“Bill Cartwright is slow and pitiful,” 2-year-old Jordan said.
That was long after little Jordan already began trying the sport himself. He started before he could walk, playing on the aforementioned hoop.
“He’d crawl around and put the ball in the basket,” Jeff said.
That soon escalated to fun games of one-on-one between Jordan and a knee-walking Jeff. But by the time Jordan was 4, a new face wanted playing time.
A new teammate
Not yet even 2 years old, Jaime Printy often strategically maneuvered herself into the middle of the action during Jeff and Jordan’s one-on-one contests. As Jeff recalled, “She had to be part of the whole thing.”
Jaime knows this, too. But it’s not from memory, only glorious family videos.
“I kept running in the way and trying to grab the ball from them,” Jaime said. “I just [remember] always watching my brother play and wanting to be like my brother.”
That was OK with Jordan. Both Jeff and Kelly talk fondly about how big brother never had any problems including his little sister.
After advancing to play on a real basket outside, it was time for YMCA youth ball. From there, it was off to the AAU circuits, something Jeff wasn’t so sure about at first. He was particularly skeptical when Jaime insisted on trying out for the Cedar Rapids Panthers — a local third-grade AAU team — as a second-grader.
He was worried about the potential effect on Jaime if she didn’t make the team, which was a real possibility. The squad was competitive, boasting the likes of Micha Mims — who now plays at Mount Mercy College — as well as KK Armstrong and Katelin Oney, who play at Northern Iowa.
“I wasn’t going to let my second-grader get cut from an AAU team,” Jeff said.
But Jaime made it. And Jordan played with the Marion Jammers.
And at that point, that was it. They chose to give up other sports. They were engrossed with basketball.
“They loved it from the beginning,” Jeff said. “They never really slowed down. They never really took a break or anything. It was just odd.”
Things became more odd.
‘Freaks of nature’
Jeff admits he introduced both Jaime and Jordan to basketball at a young age but says he never forced the game upon them. Talking to either one of them, it’s clear this is true.
“If I called up my dad today and said, ‘Dad, I don’t want to play basketball anymore,’ he would support me,” Jaime said.
When the two were 10 and 8, they began drawing up practice plans — for lay-ups, ball handling, shooting; you name it — all taking place in the family’s driveway. Jordan and Jaime consulted their father for tips and advice, but Jeff didn’t initiate it.
“I’d just look out the window [at them] and just kind of laugh,” he said. “I exposed them to it, but I certainly was not pushing anything like that on them. They were kind of freaks of nature.”
Jeff coached Jordan in seventh and eighth grade, when he played with the Salvation Army Knights, and he also coached Jaime at the same age as she competed for the Cedar Rapids Panthers. And despite playing for their father, the two obeyed their coach.
“They didn’t really treat me as an ‘Oh Dad’ type of thing,” Jeff said. “They were very respectful the whole time. We got along great. It was very easy to coach them as a father.”
At the time, Jeff knew his kids were good players, but he wasn’t quite sure exactly how good they could be. Until Jordan’s unofficial recruiting visit with Iowa State — although the Printys didn’t get the scholarship offer they were expecting.
So, can we talk to your sister?
Jordan starred for Linn-Mar High by the time his junior year rolled around, but hadn’t seen any scholarship offers. He — along with Kelly, Jeff, and Jaime — traveled to Ames for an unofficial visit to Iowa State. The Cyclones’ head women’s coach, Bill Fennelly, heard about the visit and took the opportunity to invite Jaime, Jeff, and Kelly into the office, along with Jordan.
Fennelly extended a scholarship offer to Jaime — before she had even played her first high-school varsity game — right in front of Jordan.
That wasn’t the last time.
“Everywhere we went with Jordan, the women’s coaches would somehow find out about it,” Jeff said. “It was a little unfortunate.”
Jeff was worried that it would bother Jordan. It didn’t.
“He would just laugh about it,” Jeff said. “He would still laugh about it today.”
Jordan went on with his business for the Lions and averaged 16 points per game as a junior on his way to being named third-team all-state. He received his first scholarship offer from Drake and eventually also got offers from Evansville, Wyoming, Wright State, and Indiana State — which he eventually chose prior to his senior season. He led the Lions to a state championship before graduating in 2007, earning first-team all-state honors.
Jaime didn’t need long to make her decision. At the age of 15, she decided on Iowa, becoming the youngest girl in history to commit to the Hawkeyes. Though she was never able to capture a state championship, she had plenty of success for the Black and Red. She was a three-time first-team all-state selection and became the school’s all-time leader in scoring, assists, steals, free throws, and 3-pointers, among other things.
“Most kids had jobs and stuff through high school,” said Adam Cirkl, 22, a cousin and lifelong friend of both Jaime and Jordan. “Their full-time job was basketball. Those two would put more work into that than most people would working 30 hours a week at Hy-Vee or something. That was just their thing.
“I had never met any other two who worked harder at it than those two.”
That work ethic is paying off for both.
Each other’s biggest fans
Both Jaime and Jordan have had success at the college level, although it’s been at a different pace.
Jordan sat out during his first season on campus as a redshirt. Jaime arrived in Iowa City expecting to receive her share of minutes as a freshman, but a large number of Hawkeye injuries accelerated the process.
She responded tremendously, setting Hawkeye freshman records in scoring, 3-pointers made, and assists and garnering Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors. This year, Jaime leads Iowa in scoring at 15.6 points per game.
Jordan, a junior, has developed steadily since redshirting, asserting himself more and more as a focal point in the Sycamore lineup. As a sophomore, he shot 40 percent from 3-point range, making 52 of them — the ninth-highest single-season mark in school history. His 3-point shooting percentage of 41.7 this season ranks fifth in the Missouri Valley, and his 131 career 3-pointers rank fifth all-time at Indiana State.
With so many games between the two of them — their teams played a combined 66 games during the 2009-10 season — travel plans become difficult for Jeff and Kelly Printy so much that there rarely is a plan.
“We really don’t go into the year with a plan at all,” Jeff answered when asked if the family had mapped out which games they would attend. Fortunately, neither Jaime nor Jordan spend much time worrying about which games their parents will be at.
Jeff, Kelly, and Jenna — Jaime and Jordan’s 13-year old sister — attend a majority of Jaime’s home games in Iowa City, as well as a good chunk of Jordan’s road conference games against nearby opponents such as Drake, Northern Iowa, Creighton, and Illinois State. They also try to attend five or six games in Terre Haute each season.
Travel is never so hectic as it is during conference-tournament time. The schedules of the men’s Missouri Valley and women’s Big Ten Tournaments made things difficult last season, Kelly said.
Both Iowa and Indiana State’s quarterfinal matchups took place on the same day. Kelly and Jeff saw Jaime’s Hawkeyes knock off Penn State in Indianapolis that afternoon, then made the trip to St. Louis, where Jordan’s Sycamores fell to third-seeded Illinois State.
Indiana State’s hopes for a tournament run may have ended, but that didn’t keep Jordan from making the trip back to Indianapolis with his parents to see Jaime and Iowa complete a run to the Big Ten championship game.
Jordan’s presence at those games was special to Jaime.
“I looked up and saw him in the crowd smiling,” she said. “It was a lot of fun to have him actually see me play.”
Perhaps even more than their parents, the two siblings may be each other’s biggest fans. Both wear No. 24. Both have proudly sported Facebook profile pictures of the other playing basketball. One can even find traces of their mutual fandom on Twitter.
“Instead of doing homework, I’m watching Jordan’s game. Down 1 at half,” Jaime wrote during the Indiana State-Wichita State game on Feb. 1.
“I don’t know if I was more pumped when you hit the dagger 3 or when you took the charge,” Jordan wrote following Iowa’s 64-62 win against Minnesota on Feb. 10.
The siblings credit Internet streams for allowing them to watch many of each other’s games.
“Every time Jordan has a game, it’s on at our house,” said Morgan Johnson, Jaime’s Iowa teammate and current roommate, who said that the siblings also communicate with Skype.
Jordan catches Jaime’s games on Bigtennetwork.com as often as possible.
“As much as I can, I try to keep up, and if I get a chance to watch or listen, I try to,” he said.
And if for whatever reason they can’t catch the action, there’s always at least that pregame good-luck text.
“My brother is one of my best friends,” Jaime said. “We talk every day — not only about life, but we talk about basketball.”
Jordan believes the two would be close without their love of basketball, but probably, the sport “makes them that much closer.”
Kayla Klopfenstein, 19, a former high-school teammate of Jaime’s and a close friend of her and Jordan, knows how special their bond is.
“They’d be close regardless, but their love for the game is something they really have in common,” Klopfenstein said. “They understand each other through it. They kind of know what each other is going through, and they can help each other through the hard times.”
The basketball obsession that struck both Jaime and Jordan very young is alive and well. As Johnson says, anytime Jaime needs to take a break from studying, distress, or is simply bored, “you can find her living at Carver.”
Father Jeff isn’t far, either. Some nights, Jaime will give him a call, and he’ll come down to Iowa City and rebound for her — usually when she suspects there’s something wrong with her shot.
“I think something that always made me and Jordan love the game that much more was not feeling that pressure,” Jaime said. “Then again, if we went to the gym, he would coach us. We would ask him to, but he would definitely do it.”
Jordan hopes to keep playing basketball after his days at Indiana State are through. If that doesn’t work out, though, he’s got a backup plan.
“We’ll see with time, I guess,” he said. “If not, I want to get into coaching, whether it’s college or high school, kind of still be involved with the game, hopefully.”
He might be on to something.
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