That’s A Wrap: Verdell Jones III

Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our player-by-player recap of the 2011-2012 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Verdell Jones. Editor’s note: Read our senior day feature on Jones here.

Final stats (30 games): 7.5 ppg, 3.2 apg, 2.9 rpg, 41.9% FG, 75.5% FT in 24.5 minutes per game.

No player in recent IU basketball history has been debated, discussed and dissected quite like Verdell Jones.

Coming into his final season in Bloomington, there was an argument to be made that the Hoosiers would be better off shifting Jones into a lesser role within the offense. And that’s exactly what happened.

During his first three seasons, Jones used over a quarter of the IU’s possessions and played at least 61.4% or more of the available minutes at his position. As a senior, his percentage of possessions used dipped to 21.6 and his percentage of minutes played fell to 51.0.

The diminished offensive role was beneficial to both Jones, who was able to shift into more of a playmaker rather than a scorer, and the Hoosiers, who re-distributed his shots to more efficient options.

While his efficiency numbers might not bear it out in every category, the Champaign, Il. native played his best basketball in his final season. His defense, particularly on the ball, improved immensely. He made clutch shots late in wins at Assembly Hall over Michigan and Northwestern. And he delivered a pass to Christian Watford to set up the shot that beat No. 1 Kentucky.

Rather than listening to message board debates on whether he should remain in the starting lineup or the boos that rang down on him in IU’s home loss to Minnesota, Jones used the doubt as motivation to continue improving.

“I’ve been doubted and hated on ever since I was a little kid,” he said late in the season after an IU win over Northwestern. “Things like that have motivated me to go beyond what people expect.

“People said I was too skinny to play big Division I basketball. Proved them wrong. People said I couldn’t go a game without a turnover. That’s two games I’ve proved them wrong. Everything that I hear, the boos, all that, it motivates me to levels that you don’t even understand.”

It was that drive Jones spoke of that made him such an integral piece in the Hoosiers’ turnaround this season. He realized that for IU to be at its best, his role had to evolve into a leader and distributor. That epiphany by Jones ultimately made Indiana a better basketball team.

The unfortunate finality of Jones’ career is that he was unable to reap the full rewards of this revival season. In a freak play during the first half of the Hoosiers’ first round win over Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament, he tore his left ACL. He was forced to watch from a sweatsuit on the bench the rest of the way.

It was a heartbreaking end for a player who deserved to play in the NCAA Tournament as much as anyone. Jones still found a way to contribute in IU’s two tournament wins by doing his best to lead from the bench, but there’s no doubt the Hoosiers missed his presence in the season’s final four games.

Bottom line: Jones will be remembered by teammates, coaches and fans as an integral piece in the turnaround of Indiana basketball. He opted for the Hoosiers when the program had hit rock bottom and like his four classmates that will depart this spring, stuck it out during the most trying of times in Bloomington. He leaves as a career 1,000-point scorer and a starter for most of the season on a team that won 27 games and reached the Sweet 16.

  • mrjonessodaandme

    At this point these is nothing left to say but ‘Thank You!’
    Thank you for coming when few would.
    Thanks for the hard work, the long days, the sweat, the blood.
    Thanks for being a leader and pushing when it seemed futile.
    Thanks for the wins and the big shots.
    Thanks for representing this team and school with class, integrity, and pride.

    And most of all, thank you for allowing us Hoosiers to believe in a proud program again.

    You may not have always been Hoosier fan’s favorite players, but you will undoubtedly go down as one of the most important.

    Come back and see the fruits of your labor often, Verdell. Hoosier, forever.

  • Miamihoosier

    My favorite Verdell memory, was the feb. 2010 home game against the Boilers. He outplayed, Johnson, Moore, and Hummel, to lead all scorers with 22, and JUST missed the half court three to tie #7 Purdue as time expired…..he always understood what that rivalry meant, and left everything he had on the floor…that is how I’ll remember Verdell….good luck with your future endeavors, you helped to build a new foundation for what is to become the premier basketball program in America.

  • calbert40

    Excellent post, Mr. Jones.  I will only add one item.

    Point guards are like quarterbacks: they get too much credit for the team’s successes, and too much blame for the team’s failures.

    While VJ3 wasn’t always a fan favorite, I believe that it had more to do with him being the point guard on a team that won 28 games over 3 seasons than the notion that some truly didn’t care for his overall play.  He got the blame for our struggles, because of the position he played the majority of his Hoosier career.  It comes with the territory…just ask Jordy!

    That said, now that we can look back on four years worth of games and work, I think all Hoosier fans can stand up and say that without Verdell Jones, IU would not have experienced the level of success it did this year.  Thanks, VJ3.

  • Wilmont’s Kissy Face

    For old time’s sake:

    VJIII  HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE

    You will be missed.

  • Hoosieriniowa

    For his first three years who exactly was he suppose to pass the ball to?  We either had players with less skill than VJ, players that were not able to play at their best position because of our roster, or players who had not yet developed into what we saw this past season.  Pause for a minute and think back.  Our most effective play prior to this year was Daniel Moore dribbling at break neck speed leaping out of bounds and rifling a pass to the corner for a long 3.  Fun to watch………a few times.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    good luck to you verdell . you gave it everything you had for this program,a class act.

  • MillaRed

    When I look back on Verdell’s career I constantly am reminded of how mental the game of basketball is. Was never sure it was there for him on a game to game basis. He is then tossed into a point guard role that was necessary, but by most standards too much to ask of a kid with his skill set.

    Verdell’s mid-range game was fantastic, he was a great teammate and helped rebuild the Hoosier program. I had a love-anger (I will never hate on any of these kids) relationship with him over the years but I really like Verdell. I think the team missed him in the Kentucky game.

    I wish him all the best moving forward.

  • Evansville Hoosier

    Seeing coach Crean talk about Verdell’s knee injury after the PSU game was the saddest, yet most heartfelt point in this season. You could tell coach knew it wasn’t good, and he was genuinely torn up thinking of VJ3 not being able to play in the tournament… I think everyone had a lot of love and respect for Verdell, and in that moment, it really shone through.

  • KraigIU

    I will definitely miss Verdell’s mid-range game, when he had it going it was a thing of beauty and made him really unique.  Watford will always remembered (rightly) for this shot against Kentucky but you have to give a lot of props to Verdell in getting down the court and then being aware enough that while he didn’t have a good shot available Watford was standing there wide open.  I think that if he had played against Kentucky the second time we might have been able to pull it off again (especially once the fouls started to pile up against us).

    Thanks for the four years VJIII and best of luck in the future.

  • KraigIU

    I will definitely miss Verdell’s mid-range game, when he had it going it was a thing of beauty and made him really unique.  Watford will always remembered (rightly) for this shot against Kentucky but you have to give a lot of props to Verdell in getting down the court and then being aware enough that while he didn’t have a good shot available Watford was standing there wide open.  I think that if he had played against Kentucky the second time we might have been able to pull it off again (especially once the fouls started to pile up against us).

    Thanks for the four years VJIII and best of luck in the future.

  • Gerald

    I’m always surprised to hear from people outside of the IU fanbase that they thought Verdell was a very very solid player. No doubt we were overly critical at times, but it comes with the territory of playing for a passionate fanbase. Towards the end it was obvious VJ was a leader for these guys and from my vantage point it appears as though he matured a great deal both on the court and off over his career at Indiana.

    He will always be welcome in Assembly Hall

  • NervousWreck

    My favorite VJIII moment was the January 2010 home game against Minnesota.  IU was outmatched (as they were for most of those 3 years) but lead for most of the game.  Game eventually went into OT, thanks to Devoe Joseph, and looked bleak when they were down 5. 

    Jones then calmly hit 2 Free Throws, a jumper, and an and-1 (missed FT) to take the lead back.  I just remember that being classic Verdell Jones – taking the big shots when no one else knew how to.  And I got to call that game on WIUX – an unreal environment to call a game for a team that at the time was 7-9. That was 1 of the 4 Big Ten games won that year.

    Thank you for the memories Verdell.  Thank you for laying the groundwork for this program and taking those big shots when no one else knew how to.

  • jermhoosierfan

    His first 2 years, I couldn’t stand watching IU play.  I would start out watching but ended up turning the channel because I would get so frustrated with the team.  He was definitely the best player on the team with Watford, but seeing the turnovers and bad defense at times drove me crazy.  Through all that, you could see VJ3 working his butt off.  He didn’t give up.  His hard work and determination paid off in this season that finished a few games short.  Would we have beaten UK a second time with him?  I would like to think so, but I do know that he would have hustled his butt off for that entire 40 minutes though.  That is the work ethic that he brought, and I will always admire him for that reason.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GXE4UMGJEWNC5WEUQCU6A4DB4E Kavon B

    Even this year…whenever we needed a big bucket and he was on the court…he was the one who usually provided…that’s what I will remember VJIII for; clutch shots when we needed them most.  I imagine that without VJIII this year we would have been lucky to make the NCAAs.  He basically won the UK and OSU games for us with his timely buckets.  When no one else could score and it seemed like the momentum was going in the other teams direction, VJIII always seemed to get that crucial bucket.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GXE4UMGJEWNC5WEUQCU6A4DB4E Kavon B

    Even this year…whenever we needed a big bucket and he was on the court…he was the one who usually provided…that’s what I will remember VJIII for; clutch shots when we needed them most.  I imagine that without VJIII this year we would have been lucky to make the NCAAs.  He basically won the UK and OSU games for us with his timely buckets.  When no one else could score and it seemed like the momentum was going in the other teams direction, VJIII always seemed to get that crucial bucket.

  • plane1972

    Verdell, “the Movement” really started with you and your graduating classmates. It took a Sweet 16 run to realize it, but it’s true. All the best to you as you go out into the world, and you know the successes this program will have in the coming years will be a direct result of your four years of dedication and leadership in Bloomington. Thanks!

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Thanks VJ!!

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Thanks VJ!!

  • Outoftheloop

    I love Verdell. He worked hard, played well, and was a great role model in basketball, in the class room and as a representative of IU. There is nothing but great things for him in the future. Come back to Indiana often and feel the love.

  • IULaw79

    Thanks for everything VJ3.  You will always be remembered as one of the key pieces that started to turn things around from the programs lowest point.  Hope to see you back in the stands at Assembly Hall for many IU games in the future. 

  • marcusgresham

    Even on the bench unable to play, his energy, enthusiasm, and smile were infectious.  I seem to remember a quote from CTC that the high school kids on visits would gravitate towards him.  I see an ace recruiter if he wants to stick with basketball.

  • marcusgresham

    Even on the bench unable to play, his energy, enthusiasm, and smile were infectious.  I seem to remember a quote from CTC that the high school kids on visits would gravitate towards him.  I see an ace recruiter if he wants to stick with basketball.

  • Iubrian

    The frustration with VJIII was never his physical ability, it was his maddening tendency to make 3 or 4 plays a game that were inexplicably stupid. It was maddening in a way that you become upset with someone, like a child, who does something “bad” when you know they “know better.” As a result I believe his contributions were often under appreciated by fans, myself included. However, towards the end of this season he was playing great in the role of a 6th man, and I thought he was a key to our late season surge. I felt when he went down his loss was worth about a 7 point difference that IU would have a hard time replacing, not just in terms of points an assists, but his defense and experience, his ability to hit big shots at opportune times, and just the strength of having a 4 year starter coming off the bench (see UK). In fact, for the talk of UNC, MSU, and Syracuse losing key players coming into the tournament, I think his loss was just as important to IU. Using my 7 point theory, discounting the late foul shots by UK, I think his absence may have been the difference between a 12 point loss, and a toss-up.

  • Iubrian

    The frustration with VJIII was never his physical ability, it was his maddening tendency to make 3 or 4 plays a game that were inexplicably stupid. It was maddening in a way that you become upset with someone, like a child, who does something “bad” when you know they “know better.” As a result I believe his contributions were often under appreciated by fans, myself included. However, towards the end of this season he was playing great in the role of a 6th man, and I thought he was a key to our late season surge. I felt when he went down his loss was worth about a 7 point difference that IU would have a hard time replacing, not just in terms of points an assists, but his defense and experience, his ability to hit big shots at opportune times, and just the strength of having a 4 year starter coming off the bench (see UK). In fact, for the talk of UNC, MSU, and Syracuse losing key players coming into the tournament, I think his loss was just as important to IU. Using my 7 point theory, discounting the late foul shots by UK, I think his absence may have been the difference between a 12 point loss, and a toss-up.

  • plane1972

    His game is so old school. You know he is the guy that would dissect you in a pick-up game. That mid-range game is so undervalued in today’s game.

  • quiet fan

    I wish the best for you, Verdell.  You are the player I will remember the most from the last four years.  I have admired the personal qualities you have shown and I think they will serve you well in the future.

  • SCHoosier

    In a perfect world..Jones would have made a great redshirt..instead he had to take on the major role of point guard, play maker , team QB and leading scorer. Tough assignment. He showed so much maturity this year…His rehab will go well into next year. Does anyone know if he is allowed to continue receiving treatment from the IU trainers/doctors after he gradulates…or is he on his own. Assume he wants and can play over seas when recovered. How far can IU go in assisting the recovery beyond gradulation.? Best of luck VJ-3

  • WhatsUpKnight

    his legacy will be unique, that’s for sure. he may go down as one of the most respected (if not beloved) players in iu history in spite of his career win pct. he’ll definitely be the player remembered most from this rebuilding era. 

    what’s weird is i think fans will look much more fondly on this era than the one from that last final four run. due greatly in part to what CTC has done, but due also to the dignity, resiliency, and hard work that vj and the other guys showed. obviously, this wouldn’t have been the case if their efforts hadn’t translated into an absolutely amazing, magical senior season. but now we can look back on their entire body of work, at all the highs and lows, and feel a tremendous amount of respect and pride.

  • Gerald

    I couldnt agree more. Plus he’ll always have the story of his four years in his back pocket and can attract the kids who want to be part of a “family”

  • catronhoosier

    I believe once he graduates there is nothing IU can do for him.  However, as there is always a loop hole with the NCAA, i imagine there is one and Crean would do anything he could to find it

  • b_side

    I see what you’re saying about the comparison to the ’02 run.  First off, the big problem is that Davis wasn’t able to sustain the momentum in terms of recruits.  Once those guys graduated (or left early in JJ’s case), we were left with Bracey and Strickland who were unable to build on the run.

    Also, all the success we watched this year was totally unexpected.  In ’02, being the 5 seed was about where we should have been vs. the surprising 4 seed.  

    Bottom line, clearly the future his brighter.  In fact, Crean doesn’t need to say “help is on the way.” It’s already here.  Cue the “awwwwww”.

  • DarkSouth

    Verdell finishes his career as the #23 scorer in IU history and, more importantly, the heart of one of the most beloved teams Indiana has ever produced. 

    Pretty good for a skinny kid from Champaign. 

  • marcusgresham

    Fortunately for next season, Will Sheehey carries that mid-range torch; but every time I see a guy pull up from 14 or 15 I think of VJIII

  • http://www.trinityoaklabs.com Hoosiergirl

    The image that keeps flashing through my mind is when he hit an end-of-game shot (maybe against Minn) where he shot (swished it of course) and landed sitting down. Crowd is going insane. Just remember him sitting there in the moment…. Thanks for being a HOOSIER VJIII! 

  • http://twitter.com/hoosiersmitty HoosierSmitty

    I was just thinking “Verdell’s the kind of guy you’d hate to play against in a pick-up game” when I came across your comment. So true. 

  • IUFan

    Character guy, exactly the type of guy that IU needed to go from rock bottom to The Movement.  Periodically, VJIII would drive me crazy, but I always recognized the leadership qualities and personal traits that will make him successful in whatever he chooses to do.  Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/hoosiersmitty HoosierSmitty

    In some ways, I think Verdell’s injury endeared him more to the fan base than anything he could have done on the court. 

    It allowed everyone to really reflect on what he was able to do for Indiana during the darkest days in Hoosier basketball history. We felt for him and that injury, no matter what we thought he brought to the court. We can now remember Verdell as we should – a fearless player who believed in Coach Crean, came to IU AND stayed at IU when no one else wanted to do that. 
    From what I observed over four years, Verdell was one of those rare players that comes across as confident, but not cocky. That’s very tough to pull off, but that smile of his helped for sure.

    I’ll miss that smile, his fearlessness, and his smooth mid-range game. Good luck, VJ3. 

  • http://twitter.com/hoosiersmitty HoosierSmitty

    In some ways, I think Verdell’s injury endeared him more to the fan base than anything he could have done on the court. 

    It allowed everyone to really reflect on what he was able to do for Indiana during the darkest days in Hoosier basketball history. We felt for him and that injury, no matter what we thought he brought to the court. We can now remember Verdell as we should – a fearless player who believed in Coach Crean, came to IU AND stayed at IU when no one else wanted to do that. 
    From what I observed over four years, Verdell was one of those rare players that comes across as confident, but not cocky. That’s very tough to pull off, but that smile of his helped for sure.

    I’ll miss that smile, his fearlessness, and his smooth mid-range game. Good luck, VJ3. 

  • IUJeff

    Much love to VJ3. Good luck in life after IU. And thanks for all the great times you gave us fans,  and for being such an outstanding representative of IU. 

  • IUJeff

    Agreed. We really missed his on-ball D and mid range jumper in that game. The outcome may well have been different if we would have had VJ. 

  • SS8941

    What a great player to have come through the program. Not the most gifted, but very tough and willing to take on any challenge. Good luck Verdell!

  • Billyray1usa

    Great work, Verdell.

  • HoosierRyno

    VJ3, Thanks for being so committed to this team and it’s accomplishments! I hope that this group of Hoosiers is etched into IU B-ball history for what they have done in the last few years to rebuild the team!

  • 888

    Since he was hurt in a basketball game I think they can still help him. Its not like were recruiting him. His eligability is up. If not that stincks!!! What happens when football players get broken necks on the feild? dont think theyre left without care. Good question for Alex because I think its important.

  • BallCW3

    For all the times I was mad at Verdell for the turnovers I admire his attitude and how he stuck with the Hoosiers to the end. Thanks for everything

  • Mikeblair

    my heart broke when you went down,
    it swelled when you got up
    way to be a champion

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