Curtis Jones scores 22 points in loss at Flyin’ to the Hoop

  • 01/17/2016 10:40 am in

KETTERING, Ohio — IU signee Curtis Jones scored 22 points in his return to the Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop, one year after the Huntington Prep (W.V.) guard was selected to the annual basketball showcase’s all-star team.

But Jones’ Saturday night wound up a disappointment after Prolific Prep (CA) forward Josh Jackson – the No. 1 player in the country according to the 247Composite – hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat Huntington Prep, 64-63.

Huntington Prep led by as many as 11 points and held a six-point lead with less than a minute to play. But the Fighting Irish could not put away Prolific Prep, including missing three of four three throws down the stretch.

Up two and with less than 10 seconds, Jones made a key defensive play, jumping to tip a Prolific Prep pass, which resulted in a Huntington Prep steal. But one of Jones’ teammates missed the front end of a one-and-one, before the ball went out of bounds with 1.2 seconds to play.

This set up a Prolific Prep desperation baseball-style pass toward the top of three-point line, where Jackson – who sprinted from the sideline to the middle of the court – managed to tip the ball to himself and knock down the game-winner, his toes barely outside the three-point arc.

Nearly 365 days earlier at the same event in suburban Dayton, Ohio – a mere 10 miles from University of Dayton Arena, home of IU’s last NCAA tournament victory in 2013 – Jones and Huntington Prep took down Jackson and Prolific Prep, 81-65. Jones scored 19 points that night, while then-teammate and current IU freshman Thomas Bryant scored 11.

This year, despite 22 points from Jones, including a perfect 4-for-4 from behind the three-point line, it was not enough to beat Prolific Prep, leaving Jones feeling disappointed.

“I played all right,” Jones said. “I could’ve been more active rebounding and defensively.”

Jones got it going early, hitting a deep two in the opening minutes of the game, before adding a couple of 3s later in the first quarter.

The combo guard – who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds – added five more points in the second quarter, including another 3. Jones’ 13 points were a game high at the intermission, with the game tied at 31.

Miles Bridges, Jones’ teammate and a former IU recruit, led the way for Huntington Prep in the third quarter, before Jones scored seven consecutive points late in the third quarter (dunk, two free throws and a 3).

Jones had a quiet two points in the final frame, finishing with 22 points, as did Bridges, a Michigan State signee. Both Jones and Bridges played the entire 32 minutes.

The loss, which knocked Huntington Prep to 15-7, was the team’s third one-point loss this month.

Jones acknowledged it being tough losing several closes games this year, but said he’s personally been “playing pretty well” in his last year before heading to IU. He added that he is “trying to be a leader” on his team, something IU coach Tom Crean acknowledged on his weekly radio show on Monday.

The No. 83 player in the 2016 class, according to the 247Composite, was recently in Bloomington for the IU-Wisconsin game. Jones said his trip to IU was “great” and that he enjoyed the opportunity to talk with the players, including Bryant (his former Huntington Prep teammate) and sophomore Robert Johnson (also from the Richmond, Va. area).

While Jones lived up to his reputation as a talented and athletic scorer on Saturday night, it is plain to see that Jones will need to bulk up for the next level. In fact, he said the IU coaches’ top goal for him is to improve his “strength and getting my body right for college.”

Jones, who handled point guard duties for Huntington Prep for nearly the entire game, is comfortable playing at either guard position, specifically saying he will do “whatever [Coach Crean] needs” to help the team win games.

While it is too early to tell what his exact role will be, he already has the stamp of approval from one of his current teammates and a future Big Ten rival.

“He’s a great leader and he’ll be a great point guard for Indiana,” Bridges, a five-star forward, said after the Prolific Prep game. “He’ll be able to fill in right for Yogi (Ferrell).”

Huntington Prep plays Garfield Heights (Ohio) at 5 p.m. on Sunday at the Flyin’ to the Hoop at Trent Arena. The annual basketball event, held each year during Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend, brings some of the nation’s top teams and players to Kettering, Ohio.

Recent top NBA draft picks Anthony Davis and Andrew Wiggins are among those who have played at Flyin’ to the Hoop. Other more recent standouts include now-Kentucky sophomore Tyler Ulis and freshmen Luke Kennard (Duke) and Caleb Swanigan (Purdue).

Stanford Robinson was the last IU signee to play in the event. The aforementioned Bryant was uncommitted at this time last year.

(Photo credit: Justin Cohen Photography)

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  • inLinE6

    Someone tell me why he is not ranked higher?

  • HoosierHillbilly

    Because he isn’t going to duke or uk. Most of the times these (experts) think if CaL or coach k like them there is something they missed and they shoot up the rankings 40 spots. I stopped looking at rankings a long time ago.

  • bleeding crimson

    Maybe because CTC can see things that other coaches don’t and get out of the main stream and looks for his style of play, look at VO, TW, and Curtis Jones…Just a thought but I was thinking the same thing.

  • BL

    Remind anyone of a young Steph Curry (the way he quickly shoots an old school one hand set shot)?

  • BL

    In a previous post, mharv2631 mentioned an ESPN video interview with Thon Maker. You can check it out by searching his name on the ESPN site. Really cool to hear him mention Indiana first among schools he’s considering. Can you imagine the excitement for next year if we land him?

  • SilentBob

    Well one reason is these “scouts” seem to be more concerned with NBA projections than college ones. Which is the main reason DeRon isn’t rated higher. Secondly his body is still really far off, and now that he has been a member of such a renowned prep school for 3 years people may wonder if he is a hard gainer. Which could limit his ability to play through contact, which is needed if your a tweener like Curtis. Which is another reason he is lower. He lacks a true position. Doesn’t seem to have the vision of a PG or elite handles. He’s a little short for a two guard, and even though he has a good jumper, it isn’t in the elite category like JBJs was coming out of high school. For now his ranking seems about right, but with his speed and a little luck I could definfintely see him outplaying that ranking.

  • Ms hoosier

    I watched Thon play yesterday on ESPN. He looks very athletic, has great ball handling skills, runs the floor great, but looked really soft on defense. Really hope we get him!! Can you imagine if TB stays and Thon commits to IU what kind of talent we will have!!!

  • AZIU71

    Compare Yogi’s physique as a freshman to now, very impressive. I’m sure Mr. Jones can bulk up if needed.

  • ForeverIU

    Wow, thanks. I’ve been searching for news about his recruitment. Not holding my breath though. There’s a new prediction on 247 for him going to Arizona.

  • ForeverIU

    MSU loses by a point at Wisconsin! Sorry for Izzo. His dad’s passing must be hitting him hard. Actually, that’s two coaches with fathers who passed away recently, but Izzo’s loss is still more fresh.

  • OhioHoosier

    Enjoyed the article, would love to see more like this.

  • inLinE6

    That means De’Ron Davis would come off the bench… I’m not sure that’s what CTC has told him.

  • BL

    Imagine the competition up front for playing time. Backups could take a run at a BIG title.

    If TB keeps improving he’ll move up the draft board. Could lose him after one year.

  • BL

    Same height as Blackmon; maybe a little more bounce and quickness. Body not as mature. Love his stroke. Betting he’ll make a contribution next year before end of BIG season. Especially if he works hard in the weight room.

  • Ole Man

    A lot of these fans would find reasons to hate on him.
    Just like they do with Troy and TB.

  • BL

    Whatever. We get him and TB stays, legit shot at banner #6. Preseason ranking 1-3.

  • SeeingRed

    I don’t think so — I’d be real surprised. TB needs two years to improve his body and boost, to whatever extent he can, his general athleticism. He has trouble getting off the floor in traffic and plays a bit too far below the rim for a 6-10 post player. He can obviously overcome those things in college but this time, next year, in the NBA? Don’t see it.

    Don’t get me wrong — I love TB’s many upsides. I just think he needs to develop more physically.

  • BL

    Agree with you. Felt the same way about Vonleh. Some of these kids simply go too early.

  • inLinE6

    I watched another ESPN short interview with Thon Maker on the court side. He’s basically looking to see who’s staying and who’s leaving for the league, before making a decision. If Bryant stays, I’m almost certain he won’t consider Indiana. Twin towers is never really Crean’s philosophy and we’re mostly guard oriented. I know Thon plays 4 but probably not the type of 4 in Crean’s system.

  • BL

    Maker will play 3 or 4 in the NBA. Will be good to play with a true post player in college. TC needs to sell – final 4 for sure.


    A scenario of no injuries and a continued rate of improvement that is experiencing and there is a high probability of him going next year. Going too soon, yes, but gone none the less.

  • Crimson&CremeFraiche

    Let Thon play the 3.

  • inLinE6

    I don’t think he is agile enough to defend perimeter guys, at least not on a long stretch. That causes significant match-up nightmare, to the opposing team, and to ourselves too!

  • SeeingRed

    I guess what gives me optimism he’ll play another year is the NBA’s tendency to weigh athletic ceiling vs. skills in high picks. TB is skilled and has a great motor and desire, which are terrific traits. But he’s not an athlete like Diamond Stone, for example, which I think the league really values.

    So maybe they tell him he’s better off coming back. I dunno, who can blame him if he gets an offer he can’t refuse? Not me. But I would hate to see him go — every fan of IU basketball would. He should be the focal point of next year’s team and put up some really great numbers.