Photo Credit: Scout
Before last spring, Andrew Jones knew he was good.
In fact, it was already a sure thing that Jones' basketball talents would earn him a free education. Blessed with terrific size and athleticism for a combo guard, Jones had definitely opened up some eyes.
Seems like a pretty good situation, right? Not for Jones. He wanted no part of being ‘good.'
He wanted to dominate.
That mindset was the sole reason Jones decided to make the move to the EYBL.
How could Jones dominate if he didn’t prove himself against the nation’s best?
Jones had that exact realization, and decided that his next move was a no-brainer:
Run in the NIKE EYBL.
Nike Pro Skills (TX), making their NIKE EYBL debut in 2015, was the new grassroots home for the talented junior guard. Upon making the transition, it didn’t take long for Jones to show out. When Derrick Shelby was asked how preseason practices were going, his retort was simple and to the point. And also incredibly accurate.
“Andrew Jones is a (expletive) monster,” Shelby raved. “He’s the best-kept secret in America.”
Luckily for Jones, there are zero secrets in the EYBL. If you play well, you will be noticed; that much is a certainty.
"Playing in the (NIKE) EYBL was a big test for me,” Jones explained. “I needed to see if I could compete and play well against some of the top players in the country.”
Jones put together a strong EYBL regular season, averaging 11.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 17 games, while leading the first-year Pro Skills program to the Peach Jam. A lot of scouts were taking notice, as Jones’ overall production improved with every EYBL session. He performed well, but there was certainly an adjustment period for the Pro Skills’ star.
“The level of competition was new for me,” Jones added. “ Every team was so good and had good players, we had to bring it every game.”
Photo credit: NIKE EYB
When asked to pinpoint what caught him most by surprise, Jones cited the biggest difference between high school basketball and the NIKE EYBL: the shot clock.
"The shot clock was new for me,” Jones stated. "It made the game a lot faster.”
Once adjusted to the pace and physicality of the EYBL, Jones turned his focus to his next goal. Never one to be complacent, it was time for Jones to capitalize on his budding recruitment.
“After the regular season, I knew that I could compete,” Jones said.
“But I wanted to dominate.”
July’s Peach Jam provided that opportunity for Jones, and dominate he did.
Pitted against five incredibly tough opponents, Jones went to work, improving his numbers across the board, averaging 18.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals in five pool play games. Although his individual performances weren’t enough for Pro Skills to advance to bracket play, it was evident that Jones had taken the next step in his basketball career.
High-major schools took notice, and the offers rolled in. Once left to wonder if he’d ever attract attention of the nation’s elite schools, Jones was now left with a difficult decision to pare down his recruitment.
After a long process, Jones took advantage of the opportunity to play for his hometown college, the Texas Longhorns.
Longhorns’ Head Coach Shaka Smart began recruiting Jones at the very early stages of his outbreak, and the gamble paid off in a big way. Jones is ready to step on campus, and has some lofty expectations for himself.
“Can’t wait,” Jones said of attending UT this summer. “I’m going to come in killing."
After the past calendar year, that statement is hard to doubt. Jones is set to run in this Friday’s Jordan Brand Classic, an honor only provided to those ready to compete at the next level.
Simply put, Jones is the prime example of what the NIKE EYBL stage can do for a relatively underrated recruit. If a player strives to prove that he’s better than ‘good’, the circuit allows them to prove it.
In Jones’ case, ‘good’ wasn’t going to cut it.
It’s safe to say that it never will.
Because Andrew Jones wants to dominate.
And what would he tell a player facing the same dilemma that he did? That was the easiest question Jones fielded all interview.
“They should play in the EYBL."