In case you missed it, Marquette men’s basketball and head coach Steve Wojciechowski is on the board for the Class of 2021 with the commitment of shooting guard Kameron Jones. That happened on Tuesday, and you can read our news article about it here.
What we’re doing here is rounding up various quotes and reactions to Jones’ commitment to the Golden Eagles. The news article mostly focused on things that we already knew about Jones, or at least were known before news of his commitment broke. We’re going to look at what people said about the commitment and about Jones, and pass it along to you, the smart MU basketball fan/avid AE reader.
We’ll start with Travis Branham over at 247 Sports, as I’m pretty sure he was the first one with an article published after Jones tweeted out his video. First, some quotes from Jones as to his reasons for picking Marquette:
“I picked them because they made me feel wanted and needed from the jump,” Jones explained. “They were one of the first teams that believed in me and not wait until my recruitment went crazy.”
“My high school basketball coach played with [Dwayne Killings] and we went up to a team camp with them last summer and we have just been talking ever since,” Jones said.
“I loved Coach Wojo’s personality and he has proven he can develop guards at a high level,” he added.
“They told me about it and told me about how their players develop over the years at Marquette, so yes, sir that did play a part in it,” he said about Marquette’s skill development. “I want to go where I can get better.”
Hey, remember when people went into a panic about MU’s recruiting because Stan Johnson took a head coaching job at Loyola Marymount? Yeah, seems like this Killings chap might know a thing or two about a thing or two, huh?
Also: I am deeply interested in knowing more about what Jones loves about Wojciechowski’s personality. I don’t know if y’all have noticed or not, but the MU head men’s basketball coach is not a fountain of charisma when speaking in public to the fanbase.
Here’s Willie Jenkins, the aforementioned high school coach, talking about Jones:
“Kam has always been the underdog,” Evangelical Christian coach Willie Jenkins added. “He has always gone against the grain. His family decided that they weren’t going to listen to everybody’s opinion but listen to God and their hearts. When people were saying he shouldn’t go to a private school, they did. When people said he should play for a different AAU team, they stayed loyal to Team Thad. Trusting the process is the only thing he knows and that’s what makes him special.”
And let’s go to Norton Hurd IV, the director of Team Thad, Jones’ club team:
“At 6-4 playing the point, Kam Jones is one of the craftiest scores in the country that can create for himself and others,” Team That Director, Norton Hurd IV, said of Jones. “He has been in our program for many years and I am so proud that he is getting everything he deserves. If there had been an EYBL or circuit this year he would have easily been a top 100 player or better, he is that type of special talent.”
I’m very interested in Hurd saying “playing the point,” as 247 Sports lists Jones as the #8 shooting guard in the country in their internal ranking system after installing him into the rankings at #101 overall following his commitment.
Here’s what Jones told Branham that he offers the Golden Eagles squad in the future:
“I feel like I would bring leadership ability, I can score pretty well, I can facilitate as well and I can play defense,” Jones said. “Just do whatever I can to help the team win.”
On the topic of 247 moving Jones into their internal rankings at #101 in the country, here’s what Josh Gershon wrote as a scouting report on him to go with that announcement:
Jones has good size and length for the position, physical upside, is a big time difficult shot maker and competes on defense.
Can’t really teach physical upside or making tough shots in big spots, so that’s probably all good news there.
The Commercial Appeal in Memphis (Jones’ hometown) had a short article on his commitment, and it includes this quote from Jones:
“Talking with my family, the plan was when you see an opportunity and it’s not 100% for certain that you’ll get it again, you might as well take advantage,” Jones said.
It’s not crystal clear that this is the case, but I suspect this may be coronavirus related. The paragraph immediately before this mentions that Jones had offers from Troy, Tennessee Tech, and Evansville. Nothing against any of those schools, teams, or conferences, but playing at Marquette in the Big East is a step up. Without a summer grassroots circuit this season and a complete tossup as to whether there will be a high school season this summer, it’s hard to say if Jones would ever get a scholarship offer better than the one from Marquette or even from Florida, as the Gators offered right around when MU did. Given the connection between Willie Jenkins and MU associate head coach Dwayne Killings and the future uncertainty due to the pandemic, pulling the trigger on a great situation that he can be comfortable with is a pretty smart move by the young man.
There’s not much in terms of a scouting report or interesting quotes from anyone in this article from The Daily Memphian, but I wanted to point this out:
Jones – a Memphis native – heard from Alabama, Arkansas, Belmont, Florida, Marquette, North Carolina State and South Alabama prior to his commitment.
It’s hard to say if interest from Alabama, Arkansas, and North Carolina State would have turned into scholarship offers down the line. What I can say for certain is that Nate Oats (Alabama) and Eric Musselman (Arkansas) are pretty smart dudes when it comes to the whole coaching thing. Kevin Keatts (NC State) hasn’t had great success at his current stop yet, but he had UNC Wilmington rolling immediately after taking that job and he hasn’t finished under .500 in ACC play in three seasons either, and that’s not exactly easy to do. The point is that smart coaches who know how to maximize the talent that they can get/do have on the roster were starting to take recruiting Jones seriously before Marquette locked up the commitment. That feels like a pretty good sign.
The talented and handsome Ben Steele of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did some digging into Jones after his commitment and got some pretty good quotes from Willie Jenkins, Jones’ high school coach:
“I just follow basketball and thought (MU) was a great fit for the young man,” Jenkins said. “The way they play, that’s his kind of style.
“You got a major coach like Wojo (Steve Wojciechowski) that’s going to hold him accountable as a man with Killings and the coaching staff.”
“Kam is a natural scorer,” Jenkins said. “He can really score. But the beauty about Kam is his IQ of the game and his passing ability. He can really see the floor.
“I play him at the point, but the offense we run is kind of a college offense where multiple people can play the point. So whoever gets (the ball) comes out in the pick-and-roll and things like that. He would come to me and say ‘Hey, coach, what do you think about this right here?’ And I’d say ‘Hey, let’s do it.’ Really high IQ.”
The “multiple people can play the point” part is notable here. This past season, Marquette had two players average north of three assists per game in Markus Howard and Koby McEwen. Both men finished in the KenPom top 400 in assist rate as well as the Golden Eagles finished the year with the 14th most efficient offense in the country. In 2017-18, Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey were nearly interchangeable in the backcourt, although Rowsey had the team lead in assists at 4.8 per game against just 2.8 for Howard. Rowsey ranked #102 in the country in assist rate and MU had the #12 offense in the country per KenPom. In 2017, Marquette had three players — Howard, Rowsey, and Jajuan Johnson — rank in the top 500 in the country in assist rate by KenPom’s math and MU ranked #8 in offensive efficiency. The point of the story is that without actually saying it, Jenkins is saying that he’s coaching an offensive system that has a lot in common with what Marquette is doing under the direction of Steve Wojciechowski. That’s probably helpful when it comes to acclimating Jones to Division 1 hoops.
That seems to be about it. Let’s wrap up with two more things. First, a highlight video of Jones, although please be advised that this was published in April 2019, so it’s well over a year old at this point. If you want to watch something more current, please check out his Hudl page and the 11 minute long (!) reel titled Junior Season Highlights that’s right on the top of the page.
This is a recruiting article, so we’ll close with the scholarship table.