BIL Influencer Dazeran Jaquan “Duke Skywalka” Jones comes from humble beginnings and looks to continue growing his game and profile while inspiring his ever-growing audience.
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The Ballislife fueled park and gym takeovers have grown tenfold since the Pandemic broke out in March 2020. Fans want to see authentic basketball without alot of the politics and compromised personnel or reffing. They also want to see raw content without alot of the filming politics that have hit high school basketball in recent years. The BIL takeovers are the perfect outlet for hard core fans and authentic engagement.
One of the fast-rising players on the park takeover scene is 28-year old Dazeran Jaquan “Duke Skywalka” Jones of the East Coast squad. BIL recently had a chance to catch up with the high-flying Floridian. What motivates Jones as he continues his basketball journey?
BIL: What is your hometown? Where do you currently live? Jones: Haines City, Florida
What is your social media handle? Jones: Dukeskywalka (Youtube, Instagram, Tiktok). I also have a website: www.dukesflightschool.com/courses
BIL: As a kid, what did you think you’d be doing in your mid-20s? Jones: I always thought I would be playing some type of sport, because of my speed or athleticism. I liked playing football a lot and I participated in track, soccer, football in middle school. Never did I think I would be playing basketball as I didn’t even make the basketball team until my junior year of high school.
BIL: When and why did you first start playing basketball? Jones: I started taking it seriously in the summer of my 10th-grade year at Ridge Community High School (Haines City, Fla.). All my friends were playing and I was terrible!
BIL: Did you make the varsity team or were you cut like Jordan? Jones: In ninth and tenth grade I tried out and didnt make JV or Varsity. It wasn’t until I was in the 11th grade that I made the varsity team. In my senior year, I averaged a double-double, and our team went the farthest my school has ever gone: to the regional finals. In my two years on the varsity, I set the school’s rebounding record.
BIL: How did your high school days finish out? Were you looking to play in college? Did you have a mentor in basketball at that time? Jones: I had a scholarship lined up and committed to Warner University (NAIA). I spent two semesters at Warner and then fractured my foot. My scholarship was messed up because I was injured. I did not have one mentor per se, just a lot of guys from my area that had an opportunity to make it big, who would give me pointers.
BIL: Who or what are your biggest basketball inspirations? Jones: I admire Steph Curry. The reason I admire him is he is defying all odds to be the best player in the NBA.
BIL: So take of what you were doing basketball related in your early 20s? Was hoops on your mind 24/7? Or were you taking another path? Jones: I just wanted to take care of my son but still played. My intention was to go back and finish college. I didn’t realize at that time that signing with the Jacksonville Giants (ABA) tampered with my eligibility.
BIL: Who or what are the biggest motivations in your life? Jones: Family is. I have four kids, three sons and a beautiful daughter!
BIL: How did you become affiliated with BIL? Jones: I heard about the Clairemont park takeover; I was working night shifts at the time at my job. I didn’t hear of or know anything about Friga, Sutherland, or Nick Briz at the time. I connected with Austin and then Scottie reached out and we went from there. I happened kind of fast!
BIL: What is your goal as a BIL influencer? Jones: I want to grow my presence on all social platforms and I am excited about the different revenue streams that I am currently pursuing. I am working with Caffeine,obviously BIL, and getting into real estate. Just a little bit of everything; as I would like to have a lot of backup plans cause I know I won’t play forever.
BIL: What are some of your most memorable or most viral pieces of content with BIL? Jones: The “Hyde Park takeover” was nuts and so was the “Jab Step and Jumper”. I enjoy Instagram the most and hope to continue making viral moments for our fans on the ground.
BIL: Where did the “Duke Skywalka” nickname originate from? Jones: It was a hometown name; right after high school, they called me Duke Griffin. After I got hurt in college, I signed a professional contract, we had some games televised and the name grew on me. I always played above the rim, but on that type of stage the name came and it stuck! I played with the Court Kings as a dunker, that’s when it hit the mainstream, and it caught on.
BIL: What’s your position? Jones: The leader of the Ballislife Eastcoast Squad.
BIL: What does it mean to put on and rep the East Coast Squad? Jones: It means everything to me! It’s definitely a dream come true to get paid to do what you love and influence the world at the same time.
BIL: How has basketball impacted your life? Jones: It’s really has changed my life for the better. I went from working a 9-to-5 to a full-time content creator.
BIL: What social causes are you passionate about? Jones: When I was with the Orlando Waves (pro team), they had a foundation called “Give Kids the World”. They would work on placing kids in permanent housing. The team would go and talk to the kids and families. I am interested in starting similar youth operation in my hometown.
BIL: What advice would you share to young hoopers out there that follow Ballislife? Jones: The main thing is to never give up. I didn’t start playing organized basketball until I was in the 11th grade. That and consistency is important.
BIL: What does Ballislife mean to you? Jones: Ballislife means BALL IS REALLY LIFE ! More specifically, it means that ball has made an impact in my life!