Senior point guard Will Cummings said the Owls knew what they had in junior Jaylen Bond, a transfer from Texas, before the season.
Coach Fran Dunphy did as well, calling Bond the key to the team’s defensive improvement.
In the last few weeks, the faith of Cummings and Dunphy has come to fruition as the 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward has blossomed into a defensive and rebounding force with some offensive production sprinkled in.
“You could see glimpses in practice, running the floor, getting tip-ins, you can’ t keep him off the glass in practice, so we expect him to do the same thing out there during the game,” said Cummings. “We see it every day in practice. It’s nothing new to us. It’s what we expect him to do, because we know what he’s capable of.”
In Wednesday’s 64-56 win at Tulane, Bond scored 10 points – all in the second half – and grabbed 11 rebounds, including six on the offensive end. He blocked two shots and posted a steal.
His fourth double-double of the season came on the heels of a 21-point, 14-rebound, three-block explosion in an 84-78 home win against Central Florida. Bond recently grabbed 18 rebounds – a Liacouras Center record – in a win over Delaware State.
“I’ve had discussions with him in particular about his defensive play,” said Dunphy. “For all these guys, if they want to play professionally, defense will be the one thing that will keep you around and he’s a terrific defensive player.
“He’s an extraordinary rebounder on both ends. He has that knack for knowing where the ball is coming off the rim. He has quickness, he has great strength. He can have a pretty good professional basketball career, and he lends to your program the ability to guard anybody.”
Overall Bond is averaging 8.1 points and 8.2 rebounds with 18 steals and 13 blocks in 14 games. Clearly, all his percentages are going up across the board as he settles in and fully recovers from a sprained ankle that cost him the first two games of the season.
“I’m just trying to become more comfortable in the offense and get more aggressive on both ends of the court,” said Bond. “I’m playing towards my strengths right now.
“(The ankle) was limiting me at first, it was hard to push off, but now I’m 100 percent. I wasn’t able to break out as much as I wanted to early in the season, but now I’m in good shape.”
While Bond likes to step outside on the offensive end – he has attempted 24 3s, hitting four - his most effective offense has been on putbacks 50 of his 115 rebounds have come om the offensive glass.
“Jaylen Bond’s just a beast down there, he gets offensive rebounds and sucks the air out of the opposition,” said Dunphy. “It’s just demoralizing. “
Jaylen Bond becoming a force
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