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2022-23 Marquette Men’s Basketball Player Review: #1 Kam Jones

Generally speaking, it’s a pretty good season when you’re a sophomore who leads the Big East champion in scoring.

NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament Semifinals - Marquette vs Connecticut Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2022-23 season long, looooooong since in the books, let’s take a few moments to look back at the performance of each member of YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles this year. While we’re at it, we’ll also take a look back at our player previews and see how our preseason prognostications stack up with how things actually played out. We’ll run through the roster in order of total minutes played going from lowest to highest, and today, we’ll talk about the guy who perhaps had the most amount of growth from the previous season....

Kam Jones

Sophomore - #1 - Guard - 6’4” - 195 pounds - Memphis, Tennessee

Kam Jones Traditional Stats

Games Min FGM FGA FG% 3PTM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OReb DReb Reb Ast Stl Blk Fouls Pts
Games Min FGM FGA FG% 3PTM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OReb DReb Reb Ast Stl Blk Fouls Pts
36 29.8 5.6 12.1 46.2% 2.8 7.7 36.0% 1.1 1.7 65.6% 0.2 3.3 3.6 2.0 1.4 0.1 1.4 15.1

Kam Jones Fancy Stats

ORtg %Poss %Shots eFG% TS% OR% DR% ARate TORate Blk% Stl% FC/40 FD/40 FTRate
ORtg %Poss %Shots eFG% TS% OR% DR% ARate TORate Blk% Stl% FC/40 FD/40 FTRate
114.8*** 21.8% 27.2%*** 57.7%*** 58.4%*** 0.9% 13.5% 12.5% 8.9%** 0.5% 2.7%*** 1.9*** 2.6 14.0%

** — notes a top 50 national ranking per

*** — notes a top 350 national ranking per


Reasonable Expectations

That table setting is where we get into trouble with figuring out what’s reasonable for Jones as a sophomore. With Darryl Morsell’s lone year at Marquette completed, it would seem like Jones is the logical man to step into the job as the starting backcourt partner to Tyler Kolek. After all, last year, when Jones started for seven games, he was actually replacing Olivier-Maxence Prosper in the lineup and playing with Morsell for five games. Just slide Jones into Morsell’s spot next to Prosper, and off we go, right?

With that in mind, you could easily argue that Jones should get the stat bump that goes along with being a starter and playing another 10-ish minutes a game: 11 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.8 assists a night. That’s right about in line with what T-Rank projects: 10.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists while playing just under 27 minutes a night.

Here’s the thing, though: Someone on this team has to score. Justin Lewis and Darryl Morsell are both gone now, and they combined for 30.2 of MU’s 74.0 points per game last season. Believe it or not, Jones’ 7.4 points per game were the third best scoring average on the roster a year ago, and yes, that makes him the best returning scorer on the squad now. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to instantly become the leading scorer on the team this season.... but he’s obviously a leading candidate.

T-Rank projects him at #3 on the team behind Prosper at 13.6 points and Kolek at 11.9 per game. I don’t know if I agree with all of this, particularly since that would mean more than doubling O-Max’s production from a year ago and nearly doubling Kolek’s. Possible, sure, but I feel like both of those guys have different roles to play on this team than “big scoring guy.”

Kam Jones, based on the kind of instinctive confidence he showed with the ball in his hands a year ago, feels very much like he can be “big scoring guy.” Maybe that’s not leading the team, maybe that’s being one of a trio of guys north of 10 points a game. Put it another way: Is there another guy on the roster that you could see going off for 30 points in a game this season?

Why You Should Get Excited

Without looking it up, can you tell me how many free throws Kam Jones shot last year, both overall and in Marquette’s 19 Big East games?

To point you in the right direction, I’ll pass along some facts.

Jones attempted 195 total field goals last season, but 143 of them were three-point attempts. In Big East play, those numbers are 106 total attempts and 81 long range attempts.

Villanova’s Eric Dixon ranked #480 in the country in free throw rate at 32.4%, which means that his number of free throw attempts was 32.4% of his field goal attempts. With that in mind, anything north of 30% would be very good, and anything north of 25% would be a quality contributor in that department.

30% of Jones’ 195 overall attempts would be 59, and 25% would be 49. In league play, that’s 32 and 26.

Okay, got a pair of numbers in your head?

Here we go!

Kam Jones shot 18 total free throws all season long and not a single solitary one of them came in Marquette’s 19 Big East games. Goose egg. In fact, the last free throw he attempted all of last year came against Kansas State on December 8th. Yep, that’s right, no free throws attempted against either Creighton or North Carolina in either of MU’s two postseason games for a grand total of 22 straight games to end the season without a single free throw attempted.

This is my point: Jones finished last season ranked #15 amongst Big East players in league action in KenPom’s Offensive Rating metric at 113.3. He was one of the 15 most efficient players in the league..... and he didn’t attempt a single free throw. Not a single point scored while the clock was stopped, not even an attempt to do so.

What’s his efficiency ceiling if he just adds a few free throw attempts per game to his repertoire? Heck, what’s Marquette’s ceiling if Jones adds free throws to his bag of tricks? The Golden Eagles were one of the worst teams in the country at getting to the line last season, ranking #292 in the country in that department and dead last in the Big East in league play. There were only nine high major teams — 10 if you count Saint Mary’s? — that were worse at this than Marquette. Justin Lewis led the team at 3.7 attempts per game in 2021-22. How much better can Marquette be if Jones is getting to the line just four times a game?

Potential Pitfalls

How comfortable are you with Kam Jones turning the ball over?

Last year, Jones was actually one of the most surehanded players in the country, posting a turnover rate of 12.5% per KenPom. That ranked him #281 in the country, and even when that number elevated to 13.1% in Big East play, that had him at #16 in the league. Part of this is because Jones’ role on the squad last year was “if we throw it to you, it’s because you are open and thus you should shoot it immediately.” That’s how you end up with 73% of your attempts coming from behind the arc.

If Jones is going to be a multi-dimensional scorer for the Golden Eagles this season — namely, is he going to be handling it a lot more because he’s going to be driving it a lot more — how many more turnovers will be the result? It’s going to be more than the less than one per game he had a year ago, that’s almost a guarantee if he’s going to be starting and playing at least 20-25 minutes a game if not more than that. It may come down to a rate issue. The turnovers are definitely going up, but if Jones starts shooting it — and making it, by the way — a lot more, that’s going to balance out in terms of what percentage of his usage goes towards turnovers.

The other notable issue is what if Jones is a fantastic sparkplug third/bench option, but not a reliable every night scoring option? A giant jump in turnovers might be a sign that this is the case, by the way. Marquette has options, so I don’t think Jones not rising to the challenge of being a scoring leader would be a team problem for sure. It might not be a role that fits him though, and if he starts trying to force it to happen, that could lead to a lot of ugliness.

Well, we’ve certainly got a lot to work with here, and not just because Jones turned into Marquette’s leading scorer this past season.

Before we address the things that we talked about in Kam’s preview back in the fall, let’s talk about something else from back in the fall. Namely, we have to talk about the fact that Jones was not good to start the year. As the Golden Eagles went 3-2 in their first five games — boy, is that weird to type — Jones was averaging under 12 points per game while shooting just 39% from the field and very bad 25.6% from long range. That three-point shooting percentage was exacerbated in particular by a 3-for-18 stretch against LIU and Mississippi State, which was a particular bummer since Jones had just knocked down five of 12 attempts (42%) on the road against Purdue.

He got better.

Starting with a 4-for-8 three-point shooting effort against Georgia Tech, Jones shot 47% from the field for the rest of the season and knocked down just short of 38% of his attempts from behind the arc. Part of that newfound ability to get shots to fall was a slight mid-season correction to his launch angle. Jones started firing off high arcing shots and also stopped shooting from so far back behind the line as well. His ability to let it fly from long range with ruthless efficiency almost assuredly helped his ability to get into the lane and finish at the rim, and he was ridiculous in that department. The freshman who hit 48% of his two-point attempts became a sophomore who hit 64% of them, #79 in the entire country per, and again, he’s a 6’4” guard. 6’9” Oso Ighodaro, charged with dunking it a lot when he got free to the rim, shot 66% on twos this past season. Purdue behemoth and reigning national player of the year Zach Edey shot 61% inside the arc. It wasn’t just that Jones was getting to the rim and scoring, either. He was doing it in increasingly crafty and if we’re being honest, borderline mean ways. Just when you thought you might have had him stopped up, Jones was spinning and pivoting and throwing up some absurd scoop shot that dropped neatly in the net.

That sends us along to Jones’ free throw shooting, because that’s a thing that we had to talk about in the preseason. The fact of the matter is that Jones did not see his free throw rate explode this past season in comparison to his freshman year, going from 9.2% to just 14%. However, that may be a by-product of the Memphis native attempting 27% of Marquette’s shots when he was on the floor. He went from 18 free throws all of his freshman year to 61 in 2022-23, and more importantly to our point from the preview, Jones got 26 of those attempts — a bit more than one per game — in Big East action. I am left wondering if Marquette’s offensive design actually limited Jones’ free throw attempt rate. After all, the Golden Eagles were still sub-300 in rate as a team, but part of that is because they like hitting the open cutter and they like hitting the open man for a three-pointer. It’s great that Jones was getting to the free throw line more, especially as he proved to be more and more dangerous as a driver... but the fact of the matter is that he really wasn’t getting there a lot for a guy shooting it as much as he was.... but perhaps that’s all just by design. Don’t shoot it if you’re not open, etc., etc.

Also: We will save a conversation about Jones’ free throw shooting percentage for next fall’s preview. We can all see the 66%.

As expected, Kam Jones saw his raw turnover totals go up this season. 0.8 turnovers as a freshman became 1.0 turnovers as a sophomore, which is 24 and 36 as totals. While I’m never going to say “turning the ball over more is good,” we can safely wave this increase away. Jones saw his minutes per game go up by more than 11 a night, an increase of nearly 63%. His turnovers per game went up 25%. This is an acceptable trade off. In fact, purely on rate — how many of Marquette’s possessions with Jones on the floor ended with him turning it over — Jones found a way to reduce his freshman year number. Per, he went from 12.5% as a freshman to just 8.9% as a sophomore, and that was the 45th best turnover rate in the entire country. Jones was at his best in Big East play, turning it over just 8.4% of the time, and that was the lowest turnover rate of any player in the entire league.

Heading into the season, we were pretty sure that Jones was going to be able to make an impact on the team by way of his scoring, and that instinct paid off in a big way. We have to give credit where it’s due to Jones’ ability to affect the game in other ways, too. He posted increases in both defensive rebounding rate and steal rate, which means making bigger use of him in the rotation had a positive effect on Marquette’s defense. Not a gigantic positive, as Hoop Explorer tells us that Marquette was evvvvvver so slightly better on defense with Jones on the bench. He wasn’t a problem though, and when you’re putting so many things on the table on offense like Jones was and not taking much of anything off on defense, you’ll make that trade every single time if you’re Shaka Smart.


You’ll have to talk me out of this being the Vermont game in the NCAA Tournament.

45-40 Marquette, 14:26 remaining in the second half when the video clip starts.

63-46 Marquette, 9:43 remaining in the second half when the clip ends.

Oh, and he had the assist on OMax Prosper’s and-1 on MU’s next trip down the floor to make it 66-46.

18 of his 19 points in the game in a less than five minute stretch, all in a row, game over, please enjoy your nice parting gifts, Catamounts, Marquette advances to the second round for the first time since 2013.

That video is a nice encapsulation of all of the ways that Jones was able to score this season, too. Making smart cuts, being ready for the pass, being unafraid to shoot with a defender nearby, being creative with the shot angles in the lane, it’s all there.

Jones had higher scoring games this season, and probably more complete games than “look at all of the points I have scored in a row” like he did here, but Marquette needed that burst to shake off a whole lot of things, so that wins the category for me.


Kam Jones made the sophomore leap. He grabbed hold of the mantle as the team’s leading scorer, beating out the Big East Player of the Year by just over two points per game. He showed improvements in the parts of his offensive game that he needed to in order to justify a big jump in minutes, and he showed improvement in stats on the defensive end that made you feel comfortable with him on that side of the floor. He won hearts and minds with his demeanor on the court, and on top of all of that, you can make an argument that both Marquette and Shaka Smart won an NCAA tournament game for the first time in a decade because he literally single-handedly ended the competitive portion of the contest.

Screw it, I’m giving him a 10. Way to go Kam, but remember: This just means that the degree of difficulty for grading your junior season just went way up.