Jackson Underdawgs guard Jaylen Barford gets firsthand look at coronavirus impact on Italy


By: Dylan Woods 

Barford was playing in Rome when COVID-19 first hit Italy

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the globe, the spots world is at a virtual standstill. Seaons postponed and cancelled at a moment's notice. Paychecks up in the air. Limited access to training facilities to stay in shape.

This hits particularly close to home at TBT, where a vast majority of players spend their professional seasons overseas. That includes Jackson TN UnderDawgs guard Jaylen Barford, who is playing with Virtus Roma in Italy’s top league.

Barford, who was named to the 2019 TBT All-Tournament Team after averaging 24 points and 6.5 rebounds in an impressive four-game stretch last year, is back home in Tennessee after managing to get out of Italy. He left just two days before President Trump placed a travel ban on planes coming from certain parts of Europe.


Before leaving - although he was not close to some of the harder-hit cities like Milan - Barford saw firsthand how the coronavirus was running rampant throughout the country.

“I was in Rome...but a couple of my old teammates were [in hard-hit areas] still and they couldn’t leave [or] go to the store,” he said. “That was pretty crazy. You really can’t leave or do anything else, so it’s really just sitting there waiting patiently.”

To pass the time, Jaylen is focusing on his work in the virtual world. He has been heavy on the sticks playing Madden, 2K, and scrolling through Twitter. Also, with gyms closed, he is stuck with in-house workouts.

“Things have been offbeat a little bit with the virus, but I think things will get back to normal soon, hopefully,” he said. 


With just a few weeks remaining in the Serie A schedule, Italy made the decision on April 7 to cancel the rest of the regular season and postseason. At the time of the interview, Barford acknowledged the possibility of a cancellation while still remaining hopeful for things to get better.

Jaylen also acknowledged the difficulties that could arise with being paid and communicating remotely with the Italian League over what to do next. However, it seems like there is still a long way to go before any concrete conclusions can be reached. 

As the entire sports world continues to adjust day-by-day, it really is just a waiting game.

“I don’t know how bad it is,” said Barford. “Just gotta wait and see, I guess.”