Guess it depends on whether you think Chris Jones is more Shooting Guard or Small Forward. Maybe he’s more of a wing guard/forward. I’m not sure, and that may be the plus. He’s versatile, and players that don’t seem to have a pure position seem to thrive with Coach Dixon. Think Brad Wanamaker and the way Lamar Patterson is developing. That is what young Mr. Jones may be.
The basics. Jones is 6-4 (maybe 6-5) and 190 pounds. Scout.com and Rivals.com have him as a 3-star recruit. ESPN.com says 2-star (Insider Subs). His best offers were from low-Atlantic 10 teams like LaSalle and Rhode Island. He has had an excellent senior year, and his high school team is undefeated in NJ.
Jones is averaging 21 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5 assists per game for Teaneck, which is 28-0 after winning its first state tournament game Monday.
“He can play all three perimeter positions,” [Teaneck head coach Jerome] Smart said, “and in high school he can play inside because of his size. He also is very low-maintenance. You don’t have to worry about him.”
After some of the issues this season, I would guess the low-maintenance aspect was an extra plus to the coaches. His fine year has had some interest popping up from Seton Hall and UConn in recent weeks as well.
Pitt’s interest in Torian Graham earlier this month, had suggested that Coach Dixon was thinking about adding another guard/forward/wing player. Graham — by the way still has teams watching him but afraid to touch him with his unknown academic status, baggage and handlers.
Here’s a little more from his high school coach raving about Jones.
“I think he is the second best player in New Jersey after [five-star guard Kyle Anderson, the No. 2 recruit in the country]”, Teaneck coach Jerome Smart told Panther-Lair.com. “That is just my opinion. He handles the ball, he passes, he defends. He does everything at that size. What is so valuable about Chris is that he can defend multiple positions. To a coach, his flexibility is so nice.
“He is such an efficient scorer. He is a low-volume shooter. He has had several games this year in the twenties with ten or fewer field goal attempts. I think coaches like that about him. I think he is definitely a shooting guard in college but he can play small forward in a three guard set as well.”
Versatility seems to be the key word to describe Jones. From the ESPN.com evaluation:
Jones’ versatility is one of his biggest strengths and his floor game lacks a glaring weakness. He becomes more dangerous as he continues to polish up his skills and develop his jump shot. He’s a straight line driver who could continue to expand his handle to allow him to breakdown a set defender with more consistency as well as handle against pressure.
Jones is the kind of player that makes sense to add to the class. There’s time for him to develop with guys like Moore, Patterson, Durand Johnson and Cam Wright all available. As he develops he provides an extra ball handler to help on the floor.
Here’s some more on Jones (Insider subs) that matches up with a lot of the stuff I just linked.
At 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, Jones is a high-level athlete with good size for the wing with a powerful body. He also has a good motor with the potential to develop into the type of defender Dixon values so much.
Offensively, his game is going to need to evolve as he adjusts to a much different role than the one he’s used to. While Jones was once considered to be purely an athletic slashing guard, he proved over the summer he has a deceptive catch-and-shoot element to his game. He also displays a high basketball IQ at times, as he’ll make the occasional back-cut or instinctive read of the defense.
At the high-major level, Jones has a chance to eventually be a productive player, but only if he buys into a more supportive role. He’s going to have to fight for minutes early in his career, learn to maximize the opportunities he finds within the context of Pittsburgh’s offensive schemes and embrace the fact that his greatest value to the team is likely going to be on the defensive end of the floor.
While the addition of Jones fills the open scholarship, it might not be the end of recruiting.
Dixon might not be done recruiting, though. He still could opt to bring in another power forward to add some depth in a depleted frontcourt.
According to this recruiting round-up by Dave Telep at ESPN.com, Pitt is still involved in Jakarr Simpson. Simpson is one of the top uncommitted power forwards