Hoping to Help

Jamal Jones is a week away from beginning his college career. His arrival date, June 1, is rapidly approaching, Jones one of seven new players added by Ole Miss head basketball coach Andy Kennedy since November.

But since signing with Ole Miss in the early signing period in the fall, Jones hasn't given much thought to his upcoming freshman season. He still isn't thinking about it, really, despite the days flying by now following his final year at Searcy Senior High School in Searcy, Ark.

"I can't wait," he said. "I'm ready to get up there and work hard. I probably won't think about it really until I drive up there, when I'm all by myself."

Jones, a 6-foot-8, 180-pound wing, only played basketball this spring. He claims averages of 25 points per game, eight rounds and four assists in his senior season for the Lions, who were eliminated in the semifinals of the state playoffs, which ended last month.

So he has had plenty of time -- two months, in fact -- to ready himself for when he arrives at Ole Miss. Jones and another incoming freshman, Jarvis Summers of Jackson, Miss., have kept in consistent contact.

"We've just talked about what we're going to come in and do," he said. "You know, come in and work hard. Me and him, we're going to be the close guys of the freshmen, because we really don't know anybody else.

Jamal Jones
File Photo
"He knows a couple of recruits out of Mississippi, but me and him, we just talk about how we want to give it the best we got and help Coach Kennedy turn it around, because the season came up kind of short last year. We're going to try and take if further."

Ole Miss finished 20-14 overall in 2010-11, its season ending with a first-round loss to California in the National Invitation Tournament. Ole Miss missed the NCAA tournament for the 10th straight season.

Jones followed the team throughout the year, even attending "three or four games." Mostly, though, he watched the Rebels on television, if a game happened to be on. He observed a team with key pieces, but lacking in scorers.

"They had a lot of key parts, they just didn't have many players that could knock down a three," Jones said. "They had one player for sure, Chris Warren, that was really good knocking down 3s, but he was about the only one. I feel like they just need someone who can come in and hit shots, that's what Coach Kennedy told me."

Jones is confident he can be one of those scorers. He describes himself as a slashing guard who can "get to the rim a lot," with a capable jump shot. He has developed a better perimeter game, he said, but is aiming to improve defensively.

"I got better in the positions I wanted to," Jones said of his senior season. "I got quicker, and my shot got better this year. That's why my points went up, ‘cause I hit more 3s. My handle got better like I wanted it to, but it can still get better. I'm still not where I want to be yet."

Prior to signing with Ole Miss, Jones held offers from Ole Miss, Arkansas State, UALR and Southeast Missouri State. Portland State, SMU and Creighton also showed interest, among other schools. Jones was extended an offer on his official visit to Oxford in late October.

"I'm hoping (the transition doesn't take long). I'm hoping we can get in there in the summer and everybody can just get it clicking and roll on into next year," Jones said. "That's what I'm hoping. I'm hoping it don't take long."

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