Two Americans who play professionally in Iran are stranded, unable to return to country

Chris Mannix
The Vertical
Joseph Jones practices with Texas A&M in 2008. (AP)

Two American basketball players, Joseph Jones and J.P. Prince, are stranded in Dubai after Iran’s decision to ban U.S. citizens prevented them from returning to the country where they play professionally, Eric Fleisher, the agent for both players, told The Vertical.

Iran’s ban of U.S. citizens was in retaliation to President Donald Trump’s executive order barring refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries — including Iran — from entering the United States.

Jones, 30, and Prince, 29, teammates on Azad University Tehan, which plays in the Iran Super League, were on a team-funded break in Dubai when President Trump signed the executive order, Fleisher said. Before the players could return, Iran issued its ban, preventing the two players from returning to the country.

J.P. Prince with Tennessee in 2010. (AP)

“At the moment they are stranded,” Fleisher told The Vertical. “It’s a real hardship.”

Fleisher said team officials have spoken to Iranian government representatives about resolving the situation but “there is very little optimism” about finding a solution that will allow either player back in the country. Both stand to lose a substantial amount of money — six figures, Fleisher said — if they cannot finish the season.

Jones, a 6-foot-8 center who played four years at Texas A&M from 2004-08, and Prince, a 6-7 forward who played two years with Arizona and three with Tennessee from 2005-10, are in their first seasons in the Iran Super League.

“We are waiting for clarity from the team,” Fleisher said. “It’s tough. It doesn’t look like they can finish the season in Iran. It’s not good to be out of a job. Secondarily, all their things are in Iran. They can’t go back and get them. It’s been difficult.”

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