After a stellar freshman campaign, Spiders’ guard ShawnDre’ Jones was chosen as a breakout sophomore by Sports Illustrated writer Luke Winn for the 2014-2015 men’s basketball season.
Winn’s selections come from his six-year-old formula that attempts to identify future stars based on player potential rather than statistics. Jones was one of the five sophomore players selected in the country. “It was pretty unexpected,” Jones said. “I didn’t know it was coming, and when it came out I was proud and grateful.”
Jones said he hoped to expand on his freshman success in which he scored 192 points, and shot 38.2 percent from the three-point line and 87.8 percent from the free-throw stripe.
Jones said he enjoyed the accolade by Sports Illustrated, but he did not want the individual spotlight to interfere with his team’s goal. He said he believed the team would be able to go far into the post-season, and his personal goals were centered on helping it get there. “My goal is to help this team as much as possible,” Jones said. “I don’t really have that many personal goals as far as numbers. If they need me to get steals, then that is what I’ll do.”
Chris Mooney, men’s basketball head coach, is thrilled to see one of his younger players honored. “It’s a pretty unique thing,” Mooney said. “The writer only picked five guys in the whole country. I think it should give him a little boost of confidence.”
Confidence will be a factor for Jones, who saw limited action last season until senior guard Cedrick Lindsay suffered a season-ending knee injury. Lindsay’s injury was bittersweet for the team because it lost one of its best players, Mooney said, but it opened an opportunity for Jones to gain experience against the better teams in the conference.
Last year, Jones’s primary role was to learn from the veteran guards Lindsay and Kendall Anthony. He was immediately faced with more responsibility when Lindsay was injured. “When he got hurt, unfortunately, instantly I played a lot more,” Jones said. “It kind of helped my growth. I got to take the things that I learned from watching him and put that into use in the game.”
Jones has used this offseason to sharpen his skill set and prepare for his sophomore season. He will join senior guard Anthony in the Spiders’ backcourt, who together plan to exploit opponents with their speed. Anthony said he had had a close eye on Jones, and was pleased with his work ethic in the weight room and individual workouts.
Mooney said he expected Jones to be a great player for the Spiders this season. Mooney has produced several excellent guards during his tenure as head coach, and said he believed Jones would join that list. “His sense for the game and his shooting are great equalizers,” Mooney said. “I think those two things set him up to have a great career.”
Jones will have the opportunity to live up to the expectations when the Spiders open the season Nov. 14 in the Robins Center against Radford University.
Contact reporter Justin Williamson at email@example.com
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