As they emerge as prospects to watch, each player develops his own sort of calling card. For one guy it might be his 40 inch vertical, another’s claim to fame may be a deadly crossover or deadly range to 23 feet. In the case of Verdell Jones, Jr., it’s an overall skill level that has helped to set the skinny 6-2 PG from Champaign (IL) Central apart from others in his class as plays his final summer of grassroots ball.
According to Jones, making sure his skills are as sharply honed as possible has always been a priority and it’s been reinforced by his father, Verdell Sr.
“I think I have a high skill level. That’s what we work on, me and my dad, when we work out we work on skill,” Jones told Phog.net. “He always tells me that you might not be the fastest or most explosive guy out there but if you’ve got the most skill you can have a big impact and I think that’s what I’ve got.”
Looking at his skinny frame and baby face, it’s sometimes hard to believe that Jones is nearing the completion of his junior year in high school. Rather than worry about his lack of bulk, Jones says that college coaches try to work it into their recruiting pitch.
“They understand that I’m still growing and they feel their weight programs can put weight on me and get me stronger,” said Jones of his still growing frame. “When I look at a school I’m definitely going to look at the weight program and how it can get me stronger and bigger.”
Most recently, Kentucky joined a group of programs that already included Xavier, Tennessee, Southern Illinois and Iowa (although Jones is unsure of whether or not the new coaching staff still has a scholarship waiting for him). Others involved with his recruitment include Illinois, Louisville and Kansas.
Although he’s going to wait and see who watches the closest this summer, Jones admits that Bill Self’s Jayhawks are going to be among his favorites.
“Kansas is definitely one of my top three, maybe top two schools,” said Jones of Kansas. “But, I probably won’t really narrow it down until AAU is over and I see all of the schools coming after me.”
Having known Bill Self since his days as the head coach of Illinois, Jones says that his comfort level with the Kansas boss is a plus and he’s not too worried that the Jayhawks have yet to extend a scholarship offer.
“I’ve come to KU on a few visits already and gotten to know the players and coaching staff,” said Jones. “It’s a great place and it’s a place that I could definitely see myself playing at.”
With the all important summer months coming up, Jones is hopeful that he can attract more offers and he hopes to entertain interest from even more programs. But, for now he’s more focused on finishing out strong than who has or hasn’t offered.
“I let my dad take care of that stuff,” finished Jones. “I’m just going out there and playing.”