There's Master P, a well known entertainer turned business mogul but few are aware -- at least now -- of Master D. The latter is Chris Jones, a 6-foot-4 baller out of Newark Memorial High and Westwind Prep Academy who will be performing on the various stages of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) teams for the next four seasons as a member of the San Jose State basketball squad.
Jones is well known for his defensive tenacity. In fact, in a previous article about him we alluded to Jones coming out of the womb in the defensive position. Lee Hubbard at NorCalPreps recently wrote: "Jones has made defense one of his trademarks, as he is a tough lock down defender who opposing coaches have called the "blanket" because of his defensive prowess."
Such was a missing element on the Spartans in 2008-2009, at least on an team basis, as SJSU caboosed it this recently concluded WAC season allowing opponents to shoot .483% overall and .408% on three-point attempts. Injuries certainly contributed these numbers but more individual attention and a greater team effort will be needed in order for San Jose State to vacate that basement.
UCLA Coach Ben Howland recently offered an intriguing quote about defending in basketball, talking about how former Bruin players Arron Afflalo, Russell Westbrook and Cedric Bozeman took it personally when their particular opponent scored on them. Howland said, "When you get scored upon as an individual, it should be a very personal thing...at least that's the way I look at it."
Jones does too.
"I take it on as a challenge," he said. "When I was younger, I would watch Michael Jordan videos and see him playing defense." How many kids, let alone adults, ever paid attention to that aspect of Jordan's game despite MJ's résumé including being named to the NBA All-Defensive Team nine times and winning NBA Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1988?
Jones 6-foot-7 wingspan is one of the remarkable tools he employs in harassing opponents.
And now there is another aspect of Jones' game to describe. Earlier, recruiting analyts typically mentioned the need for Jones to better his shooting consistency from distance and mid-range. According to Jones, that's a done deal. "I've been working on it with my Dad [Pastor Horatio Jones] and I'm definitely better." The Westwind Prep athletic director and basketball coach, Gary Trousdale, agrees. "In the year he spent with us, Chris worked on his shot and got that down." Trousdale's bonafides include previously working as an assistant coach at Tulsa, USF and Portland.
How did Jones land at San Jose State? The Spartans apparently finished just behind Fresno State in the recruiting battle for Jones when he finished at Newark Memorial High. Then it turned out he had some academics to tie up and he spent a year at Westwind Prep in Phoenix. As happens in recruiting, Fresno State recently decided to go in another direction so Jones began looking for a school "close to home, a place where I know people and would fit in and somewhere close to my family."
It didn't hurt that Jones' mother was born in San Jose and his grandmother resides here and now "we're going to bring a contingent of family to each home game, all of them," the elder Jones said.
Jones said that he knows everyone on the San Jose State team -- he's played with and against many of them before -- as well as being friends with another incoming freshman, Aalim Moor.
Being away from home "provided me more focus in the classroom," Jones said. His father added, "Chris gained more maturity [in his year at Westwind Prep] and going there made him appreciate home more."
Trousdale also had this to say about his player: "Chris is the nicest student-athlete I've coached and a great person."
So what can Spartan fans expect, besides an excellent defender? Various 'analysts are offering this: someone who can play the point, shooting guard and wing positions, a body ready for the physicality of college hoops, a superb athlete who possesses a good first step and the ability to dribble-drive to the rim, a player who makes his teammates better.
Jones is quite the belated Christmas present for San Jose State men's basketball, one who will look much better in gold/blue/white than garish red.
Kevin McCarthy is the Basketball Editor for Inside Sparta. You may contact Kevin with any questions, comments, or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org