Carroll's Jones knows he's a work in progress

STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Derrick Jones, a star at Archbishop Carroll, drives down the floor during a game last week at the Reebok Classic Breakout, a showcase at Philadelphia University for promising basketball players.
STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Derrick Jones, a star at Archbishop Carroll, drives down the floor during a game last week at the Reebok Classic Breakout, a showcase at Philadelphia University for promising basketball players.
Posted: July 16, 2014

WHEN THE BUZZER sounded and spectators and coaches moved bleachers to watch different prospects, Kevin Ollie, head coach of the national champion Connecticut Huskies was the most notable.

He passed up handshakes with coaches from St. John's, sidestepped assistants from Valparaiso and scurried his way to his seat. The Derrick Jones show, on display at the Reebok Classic Breakout, was seconds from starting.

But Ollie and other coaches, such as Michigan's John Beilein, Kentucky's John Calipari and Louisville's Rick Pitino, might not have seen the show they hoped for. Jones set his feet along the perimeter and rose to fire a shot in the third quarter. Swish.

His game is improving rapidly, and Jones, a senior swingman from Archbishop Carroll High, attributes it to the long weekends he's spent in the gyms at St. Andrew's in Delaware.

"Sometimes, I just bring out the gun and try to get in 500 shots," Jones said, grabbing his jersey to wipe some sweat from his brow.

"I know I need to get my shot better . . . I've been going [to St. Andrew's] every weekend, and I stay at my coach's house. Everyone says I'm more of a slasher and a high flier, but it's more to my game than that. I knock down shots when they are given."

The 6-7, 180-pounder is rated a five-star swingman by ESPN and a four-star by other scouting services. The Archbishop Carroll forward, named an All-City first-teamer this past season by the Daily News, is ranked 27th on the ESPN Top 100 list and holds offers from Villanova, Saint Joseph's, Kentucky, Arizona, Syracuse, North Carolina and more.

The lanky wing player was one of more than 100 campers at the Reebok event at Philadelphia University last week. Nearly 200 college coaches came out to watch some of the best players in the country.

Jones is flattered that coaches are coming to watch him play. But he made it clear he wants to play as soon as he gets to college.

"I'll be lucky to play for any coach; I'm just ready to play," Jones said. "When I get to college, I hope I play right away, I don't want to have to sit out a year or anything. I just wanna play. I want to go to college and reach my dream."

Even though Jones has been working on his game, it's not perfect. Jones went 2-for-6 on jump shots in one early game, 1-for-2 from the perimeter. He's a work in progress.

Jones said that when he doesn't perform well at practice in Delaware, he runs sprints, then goes back to shooting until he makes more shots.

Every time he lauches a brick, he reminds himself, "Nothing is perfect and you can never work too much."

And though he's working feverishly on his all-around game, Jones did show some bounce during his first game. He sprinted toward the rim and launched off the hardwood, his frame moving upward toward the nets. He tossed down a monstrous dunk, replicating a poster behind the rim of Hall of Fame forward Dominique Wilkins throwing down a slam. Jones might still be working on his game, but he doesn't see it as a bad thing if he's going to get labeled as a high flier.

It's what got him to where he is now.

"I mean, that's what I do, that's what I'm known for," Jones said confidently. "It's just getting above the rim. But I'm a better player than that."


On Twitter: @TylerRickyTynes

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