West Virginia's senior leader has been the subject of all of that and more during the first half of the season, and none of it has slowed him down. Opponents have him first on their scouring reports, with triple-lined notations to account for him when blocking out on the boards. It doesn't matter – Jones manages to find a way to the boards for nearly 12 rebounds per game. Foes double team him or try to deny him the ball – he still gets the ball in the post, or finds open spots in the mid-range or beyond the arc for shots. Even ankle sprains, usually a killer for basketball players, hasn't affected him much. Although he admitted he has made some adjustments to his game since suffering the injury in the Seton Hall game, he's been the same productive player he has been all year. Against ninth-ranked Georgetown, Jones recorded 22 points and 16 rebounds, and almost single-handedly kept the Mountaineers in the game in the first half. He had 15 of WVU's 27 points in the opening 20 minutes, and despite extra attention from a very athletic Hoya front line, dominated play on both ends of the floor.
Afterward, Jones took no extra credit for powering through his injury.
“I have had to change ever since I came back from the ankle thing. I just wanted to get the flow of the game, not do too much and just do whatever my team needed, whether it's rebounding or blocking shots. It takes a little bit more or using your strength and your athleticism. I found a way to get through it. My team really helped me a lot when I was struggling out there. It was just a total team effort.”
As usual, Jones turned a question into an opportunity to praise his teammates, and deflect attention from himself. However, it's clear that he was the one doing the carrying in West Virginia's win over Georgetown, and the one that has been doing so all season. That he was able to do so while battling injuries – he also had a nasty cut over his right eye in the win over Villanova – speaks volumes about his toughness and resiliency.
For a player who does everything, like Jones, it's also difficult to imagine him doing “too much”, as he said in his post-game response. In fact, it wouldn't be a problem to make sure Jones touches the ball on every offensive trip, because if he doesn't score or get a good shot with it, he can be counted on to move it with a good pass and keep the offense moving. He's not going to take a bad shot or force the action – something that head coach Bob Huggins mentions every time he discusses his outstanding senior – even though he certainly couldn't be blamed for putting up a few extras when the offense isn't functioning smoothly.
There's more than just not forcing the action to Jones' success, however. He's going to top 1,000 rebounds in his WVU career not because he jumps over people to grab the ball, but because he works himself into the right position to grab misses. He has the lowest turnover to minutes played ratio on the team by far, not because he's an incredible dribbler, but because he doesn't try to drive when he doesn't have room., and because he makes the safe, unspectacular pass. He shoots nearly 55% from the field because he takes very good shots. What do all those things have in common? Fundamentals. They're not flashy, and they don't show up on highlight reels. You aren't going to see Jones collect an offensive rebound and score a lay-up on YouTube or SportsCenter. But those are exactly the things that make him great, and should lead him to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer at West Virginia.