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2011-12 Player Preview: #22 Jamail Jones

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Jamail, as seen in his pre-flat top days.
Jamail, as seen in his pre-flat top days.

He got overshadowed (understandably) with the addition of Vander Blue to Coach Buzz Williams' 2010 recruiting class, but it bears remembering that, until Vander came on board, sophomore shooting guard/small forward Jamail Jones was the crown jewel of the group. The Georgia native was ranked No. 52 overall by Rivals (and tenth amongst small forwards) in 2010, and in his senior year he averaged 16.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, and 2.2 apg for Montverde (FL) Academy, which finished the season ranked fifth nationally amongst high schools.

With the departure of Marquette stalwart Lazar Hayward after the 2009-'10 season, Jones was expected to snag some minutes at the small forward position last year, much as Hayward had done in his freshman year in 2006-'07. That wasn't meant to be, though: Jamail saw spot action in the non-conference season (the most minutes he logged in a single game were the 14 he got against Mississippi Valley State) and was a forgotten man once Big East play rolled around. Jones got a DNP - Coach's Decision in twelve of Marquette's 18 Big East regular season games; in fact, he got nearly as much run during Louisville's rout of MU in the Big East Tournament (17 minutes) as he did during the Big East regular season combined (18 minutes total in six games).

The primary reason Jones didn't sniff the floor in his freshman year: defense. He's clearly as athletic as anyone on the team, and in the limited action he saw last season, he showed he's a capable (though not devastating) shooter from distance. But it was just as clear that he wasn't ready -- either mentally or physically -- to play the kind of defense that's required in the Big East, night in and night out. From the sounds of it, anyway, Jamail has recognized the issue. Now we need to see whether those words get put into action.

Minimum Expectations: In my mind, anyway, there is absolutely no reason Jones can't be a 10-minute, 4-point, 3-rebound guy. Maybe that's setting the bar too low, but I'm a little concerned that Jamail's going to get caught in the same numbers crunch that caused him to sit out two-thirds of the conference games last season: Jae Crowder is locked into one of the starting forward spots, and I don't think it's going to take very long for Jamil Wilson to claim the other. (Bear in mind: I've been afflicted with a likely-terminal case of LUVS JAMIL WILSON.) With DJO entrenched at shooting guard, and with Vander Blue serving (in all likelihood) as the first guy off the bench ... where do you find 20 mpg for Jamail?

In My Wildest Dreams: Jamail got serious about making himself into a serviceable player on defense, with no ill effects on his strong game on offense. I don't think he's ever going to be on Lazar Hayward's level as a defender -- in my opinion, 'Zar quietly made himself into one of the better defenders we've seen at Marquette in the last 15 years -- but if Jones can figure out what he needs to do on the other end of the floor and rebound enough to earn his keep, he's a 25-minute, 13-point, 5-rebound guy.

But, just for sake of emphasis: that's my pie-in-the-sky, Rubie and Mrs. Q hire Evangeline Lilly as an au pair for the Q-berts-wildest dream.

In My Worst Nightmare: Jamail very much wants to turn himself into a serviceable player on defense and devotes himself to accomplishing that goal ... but it doesn't happen. Once again, Jones is relegated to mop-up duty against the Centenaries of the world, and he transfers somewhere down South to finish up his college career.

In other words, just as the Admiral wrote about Juan Anderson's worst-case scenario: he's Erik Williams. Sorry, E-Will.