We are profiling each member of the 2012-13 Creighton Bluejays men’s basketball team. Check in weekdays leading up to Creighton’s regular season opener against North Texas (November 9) for an introduction to this season’s Bluejays, from freshmen to seniors.
Josh Jones (#5 / G / 6-2 / 200 lbs. / RSr.)
Check out our photo gallery of Josh Jones (courtesy Adam Streur and Mike Spomer for WBR)
This season marks the final opportunity for Josh Jones to don a Creighton jersey. The redshirt senior from Omaha Central High School has experienced plenty of turbulence during — and before — his time on the Hilltop. A legend in his prep career, one that saw him lead the Eagles to three state championships in a row, a heart ailment almost ended his basketball career.
Jones had successful surgery, and CU head coach Dana Altman reassured him that his scholarship would be waiting when he healed. Jones took a redshirt in 2008-2009, watching from the bench as the Bluejays went 27-8 and won a share of the MVC regular season championship.
Jones finally got a chance to play for Altman during the 2009-2010 season, a tumultuous one for the Creighton program. Always wearing a smile, though, Jones started the team’s final seven games. He scored just 20 points in the team’s first 20 games that year, but poured in 90 points in the last 14.
A few weeks after the season ended Altman, the coach who had recruited and stood by Jones during his health problems, left CU for Oregon. He would have a fresh start with new coach Greg McDermott.
As a sophomore, Jones improved his scoring average from 4.1 points per game as a freshman to 5.0 ppg. He doubled his steals and assists and improved his three-point shooting percentage. And he showed flashes of his defensive potential, even helping keep All-American Jimmer Fredette to a season-low 13 points.
Last season, as a junior, Jones came off the bench in all 35 games to provide a spark on both ends of the court. He’s a streaky shooter who can drill from long range when he’s on, and he can collect points in bunches. He improved his three-point shooting, hitting 42.3% of his threes (10th best in the Valley last season). And he became a more consistent defender; his stifling pressure in the waning moments of the NCAA Tournament win against Alabama forced a poor shot by the Crimson Tide during their last possession, helping CU hold on for the victory.
Offensive abilities aside, Jones’ most important role as a senior may be on defense. He is physically and athletically capable of shutting down parts of the perimeter. For Creighton to improve on last season’s success, the shooter Jones may need to make way for the lock-down defender Jones. But no matter the end of the court, you’ll see Jones flashing his familiar smile, soaking in the opportunity to play for Creighton one final time.
We caught up with Jones at Creighton’s Media Day: