A&M Hoops Lands Highly-Rated JUCO

The Texas Aggie basketball team added another piece to an overhauled 2013 roster when 6-foot-8 guard Jamal Jones verbally pledged to A&M on Monday. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop spoke to his college coach and provides insight into the newest Aggie.

In a somewhat surprising development, Texas A&M landed one of the top JUCO players in the nation on Monday. 6-foot-8, 190-pound sophomore Jamal Jones of Lee College took to Twitter to deliver the news.

"…after this long process I've come to a decision," posted Jones. "I will be attending Texas A&M. SEC I'm back."

Jones originally signed with Ole Miss out of Searcy High School in Arkansas, but unfortunate circumstances led him to transfer to Lee College (Baytown, TX) after last season. It was at a summer JUCO showcase event that Jones caught the eye of several D-1 coaches including Missouri's Frank Haith, Arkansas' Mike Anderson, and Texas A&M assistant Glynn Cyprien.

It appeared just last week that the tall guard would be heading back to his home state to play for the Razorbacks after taking an official visit to Fayetteville this past weekend, but with Monday's Twitter announcement, he's headed two hours up the road to College Station. Cyprien was one of the first coaches to call after that event last summer and even though Jones did not take an official visit to Texas A&M, he took several unofficial visits throughout the season and is familiar with the staff and players.

"He's been to Texas A&M several times and they've been recruiting him since he's been here," said Lee College head coach Roy Champagne. "Texas A&M needed a featured scorer and Jamal is a fabulous shooter, so it's a good opportunity for him. They want him to come in and score, and that's what he can do."

Jones was not tall growing up. Thus, in high school he developed his skills as a guard where he became proficient at ballhandling and outside shooting. But during his junior year, he hit a growth spurt which transformed him into a 6-foot-8 lanky senior. Still, he had the game of a guard and that's when his high school career took off and caught the eye of college coaches and he eventually signed with Ole Miss.

Jones led the Lee College Rebels in scoring averaging nearly 18 points a contest. While Jones collects most of his points from the outside, he does have the ability to drive to the basket and create around the rim. But with the unique situation of having a 6-foot-8 playing the guard spot, does it create issues to be able to stick with a much smaller, quicker guard on the defensive end?

"Well, as a coach at this level, I'm never satisfied with our defense, but to be honest Jamal has come a long way in that department," Champagne said. "He has the foot speed to stay with those smaller guards and his length presents problems for them. He just needs to stay focused and keep his intensity high on the defensive end."

Jones helped lead Lee College through a rugged and difficult regional tournament that resulted in a trip to Hutchinson, KS for the NJCAA Tournament. Coach Champagne credited Jones for his role in the Rebels' late season run and a nice finish in the national championship tourney.

"In our stretch run, Jamal stepped up and showed some leadership and he rose to the occasion," Champagne said. "Against Vicennes (highly-rated and tournament favorite) in round two, we were down in the second half and Jamal literally willed his teammates to comeback. He put the team on his back and we almost got the upset (he scored 29 points)."

According to Champagne, Jones is in good standing academically and has just a couple of courses to finish up for his associates degree. He will enter Texas A&M as a junior and will have two years of eligibility remaining.

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