By John Antonik for WVUsports.com
November 29, 2011 12:11 PM
|Senior Kevin Jones leads the Mountaineers in scoring (21 ppg.), rebounding (12.2 rpg.) and 3-point field goals (6) so far this year.
|All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo
Doesn’t it look like a different, much more comfortable Kevin Jones running around out there on the floor this year?
It certainly does to me. Jones scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds last night against an Akron front line that is probably the best he’s faced so far this year. The Zips boasted a legitimate shot blocker in 7-foot Zeke Marshall and a 6-foot-8 forward in Nikola Cvetinovic who played on the Serbian National Team in last summer’s World University Games.
Marshall fouled out with eight minutes still remaining in the game, scoring 10 points and grabbing three boards, while Cvetinovic shot just 1 of 7 from the floor and finished the game with 3 points.
It seems like Jones has been doing that to everyone so far this year. In five games, the senior is averaging 21 points and 12.2 rebounds per game and if he can maintain that double-double pace, he would become the first Mountaineer player in 33 years to do that for a season. Maurice Robinson was the last to accomplish a double-double by averaging 19.9 points and 11.7 rebounds per game in 1978.
Jones has had a double-double in each of his last four games, including career highs in points against Alcorn State (29) and rebounds against Kent State (18).
He’s shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor and he’s tied with Truck Bryant for the team lead with six 3s. Those are numbers that are going to get people’s attention.
“I’m comfortable within myself and I have a lot of confidence with this year’s team, no matter how bad or how good we’re doing out there,” said Jones, who set the WVU career offensive rebounding record during the Alcorn State game and is now 23rd on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,270 points. “This is my last year so I want to go out the best way possible.”
To me, Jones looks like he’s finally getting comfortable in his body.
To Bob Huggins, he believes it’s more a matter of sticking to the things he does really well.
“I think he felt pressure to do things that were really out of character for him, a lot like Truck did in the Kent State game,” said Huggins. “You’ve got to do what you’re good at doing and I think he’s very comfortable being Kevin Jones now and what Kevin Jones does.”
Huggins has had his fair share of stud bigs through the years - Kenyon Martin, Danny Fortson, Ruben Patterson and Corie Blount to name a few - and although Jones is a different player, Huggins believes Kevin is starting to reach their level in terms of effectiveness on the court.
“He’s, I think, more versatile than a lot of those guys were,” said Huggins. “Those guys were primarily paint guys. Obviously, there was only one Kenyon athletically, but (Jones) can step out and make shots a little bit better, but he’s probably not quite as good around the rim as some of them were.”
Jones isn’t the greatest leaper and he doesn’t have picture-perfect form on his jump shot, but he can make shots and he’s an outstanding offensive rebounder. Huggins has said repeatedly that Jones is blessed with a great set of hands, an excellent understanding of the game and a willingness to go get the basketball. Plus, he’s truly committed to being a great player and all of that hard work is really starting to pay off.
“He is a great example to these other freshmen,” said Huggins. “I told them the other day in practice, ‘Follow this guy around, man. You should be here when he’s here and you shouldn’t leave until after he leaves. Just watch what he does.’ When all those other guys are gone, he’s out there shooting the ball. That’s why he’s become the player that he’s become.”
Before yesterday’s game – a much easier than expected 77-56 victory - Huggins was talking to some of the Akron coaches and they began to ask about the two outstanding transfers Juwan Staten and Aaric Murray, who the word is, have been tearing it up in practice. Then the conversation turned to Huggins’ terrific group of freshmen.
But the one guy everybody seems to take for granted is Jones.
“Everybody comes in and watches us practice and they say, man, those two guys sitting out are your two best players. No they’re not. The best player is number five,” said Huggins. “He plays.”
“He knows how to play. He plays so hard. He’s got such great hands. He rebounds the ball and he’s starting to make that jump shot and he’s starting to make that intermediate jump shot.”
Yes, it looks like a different, much more comfortable Kevin Jones out there to me.
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