In some ways, former Arcata star Jordan Semple has come full circle. In others, his journey is a long way from over.

Semple, a 2010 Arcata grad who went on to star at Chico State, is currently playing pro basketball in France, playing this season for Lorient in the third tier of the French game.

It’s his fourth season playing abroad, and coincidentally brought him back to the country of his birth.

“You don’t really have a choice of where you play each year,” said Semple, whose mother is French and father American. “Instead you have a few options each summer that your agent gives you from a select number of teams from different countries that are interested in you. So this year France was an option and I decided to take it.”

The dual citizen came to California when he was four years old, spending 10 years in Los Angeles before moving north to Arcata, where he helped re-establish the Tigers’ basketball dynasty.

Semple played a pivotal role in his junior and senior years at the school, as the Tigers ended a decade-long Big 5 drought and kickstarted what would be a decade of dominance.

“Playing at Arcata high was a great memory for me and my family,” he said. “Before I got to play varsity there, Arcata wasn’t really known as a basketball school … hadn’t won’t the league conference in 10-plus years, and the same with the AIBT. 

“The core we had of Timmy Couch, Connor Byrne, Lucas Prokopiak and Ryan Dehart were determined to change that and make a name for the city of Arcata.”

Senior leadership

They did that and more, winning both the league and Dick Niclai tournament in Semple’s junior campaign, and advancing to the North Coast Section semifinals.

“The two seniors, Luke and Timmy, really showed everyone the professional and passionate approach we had to play the game,” he said. 

As a senior, Semple helped the Tigers to a 26-6 overall record, including a perfect 8-0 mark in league play, and was named MVP of the Big 5.

After that, he had several options to continue playing at the next level, and his choice came down to two in particular. 

“The only ones I paid attention to were Chico and HSU,” he said. “HSU was coming off a great season and Chico was up and coming. I ended up deciding to go to Chico, taking a risk, but I think it paid off.”

It certainly did, for both player and school, with Semple enjoying his time as a Wildcat and leaving a lasting legacy in his wake.

He is the school’s all-time leader in rebounds, blocks and double-doubles, and helped the Wildcats to two conference titles.

Pro ball

After college, Semple opted to continue playing, signing up to play wherever he could, which has included stints in Israel, Spain and Bulgaria, before returning to the land of his birth this season.

And it’s a journey he seems to be enjoying, while getting an education in different cultures.

“It’s been fun,” he said. “Every country has a different style and culture. The food is amazing here and it also has a California vibe in some aspects.”

Playing in Lorient, which is on the French coast and about a five-hour drive from the city of his birth, has also been a special experience, and one that has helped him continue to develop his game.

This season he averaged 12.4 points a game, to go with six rebounds, and 2.9 assists.

He also shot 33 percent from 3-point range and dished out 2.9 assists a game, scoring a season-high 21 points on two occasions.

“Each year you try to find things in your game to improve on, and in France they definitely play more of a slowed down college style play that makes you play more patient and calculated,” he said.

As for his future, Semple’s not sure where he may end up next season, but he is enjoying the moment and happy to be still playing basketball.

“For now, I just want to keep competing each year in Europe while improving,” he said. “Then also try to find good opportunities and teams to showcase my talent.”


Ray Hamill writes at, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.