2010-2011 Player Profile: Verdell Jones

  • 10/15/2010 11:04 am in

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 11: Guard Verdell Jones III #12 of the Indiana Hoosiers drives with the ball the Northwestern Wildcats during the first round of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 11, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)It’s time for Inside the Hall’s player-by-player breakdown of the 2010-2011 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Verdell Jones.

So about a year and a half ago, I wrote a column that I cannot currently locate, which said that I thought Verdell Jones should be named the 2009 Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Call it blind homerism, call it bad journalism, call it whatever you want, but I wrote it, and it’s probably still hurtling through cyberspace somewhere, waiting to pop up and surprise me.

But I stood by it then, and I’ll bet I look a fair bit smarter now. That’s what I tell myself, anyway.

It wasn’t exactly sage to pick Jones as a big part of Indiana’s future. He scored 11 points per game his freshman year, and pushed that number to almost 15 last season.

More than that, though, is the ways Jones scores. “Ways,” that’s the key word. He’s versatile, and makes up for a lack of size (still listed at 185 in his third year in college) with exceptional body and ball control when attacking in the paint. He has range that he’ll show on occasion, but Jones’ best work is done inside the arc, just short of the rim.

In addition, Jones has become more comfortable running the offense, although his turnover numbers (2.8 per game) are still too high.

What’s most important about Jones, inarguably, is his leadership skill. One of the lasting images of his sophomore season is Jones gathering his teammates at big moments on the court during Indiana’s 81-78 overtime win against Minnesota at home. Jones’ steadying presence on the court, accompanied by some clutch points in the game’s dying moments, all but carried Indiana to victory.

There’s no denying there are holes in Jones’ game. The turnovers speak loudly, and Jones still gives up size when he’s guarding bigger players, and speed when he’s guarding quicker ones. But Verdell Jones, who has turned into the jewel of Tom Crean’s first recruiting haul in Bloomington, is one of the unquestioned leaders on a team that needs unquestioned leaders, which makes him invaluable.

Looking to this season, Jones figures to handle the ball plenty, as Crean has said he will be one of the Hoosiers’ primary offensive leaders. He’ll need to cut down the turnovers, obviously, and improve on a 39.9 percent shooting mark (although it’s also fair to point out that Jones attempted 53 more field goals than any other Hoosier last year, so sheer mathematics worked against him).

But barring something unforeseen, we’re still talking about Verdell Jones as the heart of this team in January.

Best-case: Best case is pretty simple — Jones is one of Indiana’s leading scorers, its captain and an obvious candidate for D.J. White-dom by the end of the season. He establishes himself as one of the first memorable faces of Tom Crean’s Indiana.

Worst-case: The funny thing is, if Maurice Creek is healthy (and that’s a moderate if), the worst-case scenario isn’t all that bad. It’s really hard to imagine Jones regressing with the talent around him getting even stronger and more experienced, so worst case is probably just that his scoring average dips and others step into his leadership role, maybe even pushing him to the bench by the end of the year. But even those odds seem awfully long.

Quotable: “I think we’re very hungry. We have nothing to put our chests out and be boastful about, so we’re very humble and very hungry right now. I think that is going to lead us to win a lot of games this year.” – Verdell Jones

Previous Player Profiles: Maurice CreekDerek ElstonJordan HullsGuy-Marc Michel

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  • Wish

    Didn’t he struggle a bit when Mo Creek was in the lineup last season? Does anyone have the breakdown of those #’s?

    I worry that he’ll come out a bit tentative, he needs to continue to get to the line as much as possible. If he improved as much between his soph/junior year as he did between his frosh/soph year then watch out.

  • Said Osterman column, per our friend Jordan Cohen:

    http://idsnews.com/news/story.aspx?id=66462

  • Said Osterman column, per our friend Jordan Cohen:

    http://idsnews.com/news/story.aspx?id=66462

  • Anonymous

    Maybe VJ3 needs to be Elston’s lifting buddy so he can pack some meat on those bones. He’s an easy kid to like. I hope (and expect) he’ll continue to improve and be an integral part of the team. I do have a hard time seeing him at PG, but he’ll certainly demand a lot of minutes.

  • JerryCT

    Having been in PR and then again at PITT and Md games my eyes tell me that I agree that VJ3 was not as “central” to the offense with Creek in the game. I see this however as a result of our early focus on transition offense with JR rebounding and pushing it up court and Creek having the speed and experience in this offense to capitalize.

    As this offense gave way to half court sets VJ3 took over. It will be really curious to see what we run this year and if we mix it up alot. VJ shooting % will always be lower than Creek because alot of his shots are contested in traffic.

  • stonaroni

    No way will he shy away from being the leader or taking the ball to the hold on offense. He knows this is his team and he wants to win.

    Also I have it on good merit, when recruits are on campus they gravitate to VJIII. VO, WS, AE, Jurkin, Buss, Yogi, etc. Mo Creek has the same reputation.

  • JerryCT

    I think Creek’s/Hulls/Roth success will improve VJ3’s efficiency. What do teams do ? if the deny the wing pass to Creek they give VJ and JR more access to the lane. If they sag to defend the lane they give daylight to the shooters.

    Hulls/Roth are great uncontested shooters and Creek is our most difficult 3pt shooter to contest because he can blow by the defender.

    I think VJ thrives this year and finally becomes Devin Harris as i predicted a few seasons ago

  • Yogi Kelin Zeller

    VJ3 is the most important player in the early Crean era. He has done what a coach wants a kid to do from year to year which is get better. The early chatter is he has shown some improvements in his strength and decision making.

    IU needs to get him to the NCAA tourney before he leaves. He deserves it. There will be some adjustments to him and Mo being on the court together again but VJ, MO, and Christian give us alot of fire power, with mad bombers like Roth, Sheehey, and Hulls on the peremeter.

    Tonight…..

    I want a Roth v Hulls 3pt shootout….Roth will defend his title, the kid can SHOOT IT
    VO v Sheehey in the dunk contest…..VO will win because he is a little more daring and will jump over multiple people…but Will will surprise some people.

  • Anonymous

    I would add to your analysis on Creek that he has the quickest release that I have ever seen. If you sag off of him even a little, he will knock it down right in your face. If you get up on him, can blow by, as you point out. I think Creek will be incredibly difficult to defend and that should only make slashers like Jones and Rivers better.

  • Jerry – I like the Devon Harris analogy and he also reminds of keith wilkes (UCLA and Lakers) from the 70s – smooth and determined.

  • JerryCT

    I am really looking forward to your analysis tomorrow or late tonight on what you saw. I am looking forward to anybody’s comments for that matter………….. including whether Jimmy Rayl took the floor to challenge in the 3pt contest ………… his idea of getting open was “go out so far they don’t have the sense to guard you”. He could scoreless in one half and put up 40 in the next

  • stonaroni

    Jimmy Rayl used to come to various basketball camps that I attended. It never failed the “Splendid Splinter” would knock down 20 out of 20 FT’s. I failed to mention that he was in his late 50’s at this point. Even at that age he could knock down shots from anywhere. Not saying he would win the 3pt contest, but he could hold his own for sure.

  • Anonymous

    DSR is confirmed for tonight along with a few others now! We are pushing 20 commits/prospects for HH which is just amazing. I would not be at all surprised that we receive one or two verbals by the end of the weekend. It’s going to be a great weekend for Hoosier fans: Hoosier Hysteria Day, commitments and a football win!

  • JerryCT

    Wow , nice update on him

  • Anonymous

    He could stand to be somebody’s eating buddy, too (other than Jared Fogle–he needs more fat in his diet.)

  • Anonymous

    It’s a shame the recruits can’t just play a pick-up game amongst themselves with that frenzied crowd cheering them on.

  • Anonymous

    I was thinking, in some ways it’s even more important for Verdell to cut down on his turnovers than it is for Rivers. No matter how well Rivers handles the ball, he should NOT be in the game at crunch time if IU has a lead and the ball. VJIII has to be in there because he can hit FTs.

  • millzy32

    I wish I was attending but too much going on for a 6+ hour drive to see it tonight. Everyone who goes be loud and hopefully by Monday you’ll be right and we’ll have another commit or two or three.

  • millzy32

    Does anyone know the answer to this question? Does Rivers hit free throws in practice? I know some players can hit pretty well in practice and then in the games they just lose focus. Is that Rivers or is he just plain terrible all the time at shooting? If so why isn’t someone working with him on a better stroke?

    I just see so much potential if he could just somehow figure out how to use it correctly.

  • MillaRed

    I’m hearing Pritch is getting a lot of love. He dropped 12-15 pounds and that has allowed him to play higher above the rim. I guess this is why he’s in the HH slam dunk contest.

    Could we actually see this happen on opening night?

    PG – VIII
    SG – MO
    SF – CWat
    PF – Pritch
    C- GMM

    If Pritch can bring it this year it will be a huge boost. Makes the bench much deeper.

  • MillaRed

    Not sure Millzy but he sure looks a mental mess when he is at that FT line doesn’t he? It’s all in his head.

  • dfitz

    Does anyone know the channel for HH on Direct TV. The only one showing any info is Big Ten 610 and that is football. I wish I could be there
    Thanks

  • Anonymous

    I think we’ll see Elston at the 4 Pritch/GMM at 5

  • millzy32

    Free Throw shooting is probably 90% mental so I concur.

  • Hhh

    i wrote an extensive article about jones on the floor with creek the last two years. submitted it to fan report but it may have been a bit too negative or just not that good.

  • iugolfer

    A few basketball players live where I live, so I’ve seen Verdell around a few times. He definitely looks like he has bulked up a bit. Hopefully that translates to better play!

  • Im4springrs

    The channel on Direct TV for HH is 610

  • marsh21

    WHY DID ALL THE NAMES OF PLAYERS ATTENDING HH GET TAKEN DOWN FROM THE SITE?

  • There’s in the third post on the site.

  • JerryCT

    Yes , CTC clearly stated in an interview last season that he shoots FT well in practice and it is in his head only.

    I can tell you guys need me to buy you some beers ……….. because if you watched the last 10 games he was 47% from the field and ….. ( drum roll please ) …………78.5% from FT stripe.

    In perspective the 2 FT leaders for the season were Watford and Hulls at 80% and his FG% over this period is better than any 31 game player who took more than 60 shots during the season.

    Lets hope his shooting streak continues into this season.