ATLANTA – Fresh off the biggest shot of his young life on Tuesday in his team's biggest win of the season, future University of Arkansas point guard Dontell Jefferson and his fellow Red-Eye Panthers got just enough done on Thursday night against a lesser foe.
The 6-6, 185-pound Jefferson tossed in 16 points, dished out 7 assists and also grabbed 7 rebounds to lead his Atlanta Metropolitan College squad to a 84-74 win Thursday night over Coastal College in junior college basketball action.
"We didn't play as well as we did earlier this week, but we reached down there at the end and pulled out a win and that's what it is all about," Jefferson said. "But we have to get back to where we put teams away and lower the hammer on them when it is time."
This win came just two days after the future Razorback dropped in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift his team to a 73-70 win over Georgia Perimeter.
It was a game where Jefferson, who will sign with Arkansas this spring, had 20 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds for the Red-Eyed Panthers (15-4) while nearly picking up his fourth triple-double of the season.
"Look this is a special kid," AMC head coach Robert Pritchett said. "Most kids come into junior college just throwing up shot and not looking for the past first, but that's now how Dontell is. He is too unselfish. He has such a great all-around game, but I trying to get him to be more selfish. He's got to know how special he is and let everybody else know it as well."
Pritchett called a timeout and set up a play near the end of the win over Georgia Perimeter, but knew that his team's foe was going to be trying hard to defend it.
"I told Dontell look I don't feel great about this play because they might jump there," Pritchett said. "So I told him if they do, ‘you have got to take over. You have got to be the man.' He ran the clock down, made a move and then just popped up and drilled a 3-pointer, It was a big-time play for a guy becoming a complete big-time playmaker."
Jefferson was 6-of-9 from the field in the Thursday win over Coastal College, 1-of-2 from 3-point range and 3-of-5 from the free throw line. He did have five turnovers, three of which came after getting into the lane and getting stripped of the ball.
"The biggest thing I am going to have to improve on is my strength," Jefferson said. "I know this and it is going to be my main focus after the season. I know the players are going to be bigger and stronger in the SEC and I am going to get ready for it."
On the year he is averaging right at 16 points, 8.9 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51 percent overall from the field, 81 percent from the line and 41 percent from beyond the 3-point arc – a place he has only taken 40 shots behind this season.
He has also put up a plethora of spectacular plays, such as a dunk on one end he had Thursday night followed shortly afterwards by chasing down the other team's point guard and swatting away a sure lay-up.
Those are the kind of plays – and his distribution of the ball – that Pritchett thinks will make an impact on the four players Arkansas signed in November – 6-10, 265-pound Al Jefferson, 7-0, 252-pound Steven Hill, 6-10, 235-pound Darian Towns and 6-8, 235-pound Charles Thomas.
"He's a great athlete, a guy who attacks the goal and plays with his elbow above the rim," Pritchett said. "He's so good right now, but when he gets up there with those guys at Arkansas and that wonderful recruiting class they have coming in, he's just going to be a phenom right along with them."
Jefferson has grown from 6-1 to 6-6 in the two years after he finished up his high school career at Stephenson High in Stone Mountain, Ga.
He's floated under the college basketball recruiting radar until December, but Arkansas made contact back in September, came to see him practice and play four games and then made a move to get him wrapped up as teams like Georgia, Clemson and Florida State began to recruit him.
"They were here in September and came back and back," Jefferson said. "By December, they were telling me you are what we are looking for – a big, vocal point guard who will be a leader on the floor. Come take a look."
Jefferson took an official visit to Arkansas right before Christmas, loved what he saw and committed that same weekend.
"It surprised me," Jefferson said. "But when I got there, saw what it was like, saw who they had coming in and where the program was headed, I said ‘I want in now."
Jefferson, who had one game this season of 25 points, 15 assists and 14 rebounds, said the UA staff has told him they are not bringing him in to sit.
"They have told me they want me to come up there and to the orchestrate the symphony they are going to have going on," Jefferson said. "I'm looking forward to it."
Dontell Jefferson's making a point
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