Verdell Jones Cancels Arizona Visit

Verdell Jones, a 6-foot-4 guard from Champaign Central, has decided to cancel his visit to Arizona this weekend, despite receiving a scholarship offer from the Wildcats, according to good friend Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star. Jones will make his college choice Monday and is expected to pick among Minnesota, Indiana and Kentucky, with the Gophers being the prohibitive favorites.

Verdell Jones led the Maroons to the Class 3A semifinals as they fell to two-time defending champ Chicago Simeon 51-46. He was named to the Associated Press Class 3A All-State first team after leading the Maroons to a 25-8 mark and a third-place finish in the Class AAA Tournament. Jones averaged 17.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. He shot 46.8% from the field, 31% from three-point range and 75.3% from the free throw line. He finished his career with 602 assists, ranking him sixth on the state of Illinois' all-time list.

Jones received interest from Indiana, Kentucky, Georgetown, Minnesota, Virginia, Texas and Arizona. He visited Indiana two weeks ago, which lost four players, and Arizona was looking for players with the loss to Jerryd Bayless and Chase Budinger to the NBA draft. Arizona has the No. 1 point guard in the country, Brandon Jennings, coming in next year.

However, the distance to Tuscon was believed to be too far for Jones to commit to Arizona as he decided to cancel the visit after returning home from school.

Verdell Jones II, the father of Verdell, said that his son wants to play in the Midwest, close to home, but not too close. Bloomington, Indiana is 154 miles from Champaign, Lexington is 312 miles away and Minneapolis is 511 miles.

Playing in the Big Ten would mean a return visit to Champaign to play Illinois, allowing his family and friends to see him, along with reasonable trips to Iowa, Northwestern and Wisconsin.

The Gophers are looking at Jones to give them some needed depth at point guard. They lose leading scorer Lawrence McKenzie and will likely start sophomore-to-be Al Nolen. However, they do not have another true point guard on the roster with Lawrence Westbrook and incoming freshman Joseph capable of playing some minutes in the playmaking role. Westbrook is expected to miss four months due to a recent surgery.

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