Jones tries to grow as a leader in senior season at Huntington Prep

  • 04/15/2016 9:57 am in

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – As Curtis Jones began his senior season at Huntington Prep, there was a leadership void that needed to be filled.

The graduation of Thomas Bryant – the team’s vocal leader and energy guy – was a significant loss. And Jones, along with Michigan State signee Miles Bridges, were thrust into more prominent roles for their senior seasons.

Not only was the loss of Bryant big from a production standpoint, but he was the guy who was the loudest guy on the court for Huntington Prep, according to Jones.

So without Bryant, who went on to help lead Indiana to a regular season Big Ten championship, Jones knew he needed to step up.

“I was the leader, tried to be the leader,” he said. “We had a lot of new pieces together so it kind of helped me to grow into a better leader. Telling them what to do and with them not really knowing the playbook and things like that.”

Playing a schedule that featured some of the nation’s best teams, Huntington Prep finished the 2015-2016 season with a 25-11 record.

The 6-foot-4, 175-pound combo guard said working on his point guard skills was a focus during his senior season. He put on 10 to 12 pounds in the last year.

“I played a lot of point guard this year, so just continuing to work on my point guard skills, but also scoring,” Jones said. “Coach (Tom) Crean wants me to increase my range, put weight on, post feeds with getting Thomas and De’Ron (Davis) the ball and changing speeds. A lot of small things that will help a lot.”

Ranked the No. 84 player in the country by the 247Composite, Jones should be an immediate contributor next winter in an Indiana backcourt that should feature more depth.

While the Hoosiers are losing Yogi Ferrell, Nick Zeisloft and walk-on Harrison Niego, they’ll return Robert Johnson, welcome back James Blackmon Jr. from injury and also add Jones and Devonte Green, who signed his National Letter of Intent on Thursday.

The loss of Ferrell will be major for Indiana, but Jones said that Indiana’s system will allow multiple guys to handle the ball.

“The way the system is, there’s a lot of people who can play point guard with Rob and James also,” he explained. “It’s not really a big thing. We’re all guards. We’re all basketball players.”

Jones, who committed to Indiana in September and signed in November, is already friends with several players on the roster. His relationships with Bryant and Robert Johnson, who he has known since he was 9, were major reasons why he felt so comfortable in Bloomington.

This week in Louisville, he’s had the chance to build a better relationship with Davis, who will help Bryant anchor the Indiana frontcourt next winter.

The prospect of reuniting with Bryant brought a smile to the face of Jones when he was asked about the big man’s decision to return for his sophomore season.

“I was happy, but also want the best for him so if he would have went I would have been just as happy,” Jones said. “It was nice to see he’s staying.”

“He has a lot of energy all of the time and it just travels to everybody. So if you’re having a bad day, Thomas is going to be there with energy all of the time. He kind of picks you up.”

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  • AZMBNZ

    Please not a 3-guard rotation. At least not in the B10. A team gives up too much length, along with being locked into a specific game plan, with 3 G’s. Unless you have a combo g/f (like Troy) who can offensively draw out the defense and guard the offensive forward spot, it is really hard to implement successfully. I amy not sure any of the guards have enough length. I am talking wingspan, not necessarily height. BTW, Newkirk is 6-1. To sum up, I think whatever offensive benefits a team gets with 3 G’s on the floor are outweighed by what they give up defensively.

    Another issue with 3 G’s is having to sit more bigs. I, for one, want to see as much TB, DD, OG, JUWAN, and COLIN as possible. No need to keep them out for an extra guard.

    I think a more effective approach with multiple guards is to keep a more active rotation while keeping the classic positions on the floor. Although, that has not worked as well in the past for Coach Crean. He settled into leaving players on the court this year and it worked well.

  • AZMBNZ

    Yeah I saw that “side approach” in the three-point contest video; I assumed it was due more to taking the balls off the rack than due to his mechanics. Great insight though, and that video is sweet.

  • Fifer39

    It’s offensive production I’d be worried about and that front line will need to stay healthy and out of early foul trouble (TB and CH especially). But I agree with your analysis – a fit and in form JBJ and RJ continuing to shoot it well from outside will be key though in that system.

    A returning TW and/or McSwain coming and proving to be as effective as many in here are predicting (as BL says above) would suddenly open up many more options and provide that combo g/f benefit at either end.

    Oh well, it’s all speculation and there’s tons of coaches would just like to have TCs dilemma!

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Can’t wait for the 2016-2017 IU basketball season to start.

  • You know what? That annoys the heck out of me also.. geez, I always think, they’d out to just run up and force the guy to pick it up.. I don’t watch the NBA much, but I’ve never seen it happen there. Have you?

  • They might have the same ‘mother’, different fathers…
    Geez, you can tell I’m getting desperate to read something new on here.. I don’t think we’ve seen anything since last Friday.. have we? Oh well a normal weekend.

  • TomJameson

    Don’t watch NBA much either, except at playoff time anyway, but I don’t recall seeing it. I just think back to the IU games I’ve seen lost because the “other” team made a shot in the last 3 seconds. Maybe 3 seconds they shouldn’t have had??

  • marcusgresham

    Just read a quote from Romeo Langford that the four schools recruiting him the hardest are Duke, UNC, Louisville, and Kansas. Why the hell is Indiana not on that list (although IU has offered him and only Louisville from that list has done the same?)

  • marcusgresham

    I don’t see three guards starting. You still have Bryant and Hartman, and it would seems with the progress he made last year Anunoby would be in there, as well.

  • marcusgresham

    Wooden’s teams often pressed with the forwards, not the guards. If you have athletic forwards that’s a really good idea because you have to figure they’re going to have longer arms and be harder to throw around/over; plus you then have your guards back in case you do get burnt and you would assume they would have the quickness to eliminate the lay-ups. IU also has the option of putting Davis, a record-setting shot-blocker in high school, at the back of the press (but they surely can’t press with Davis and Bryant in the game together.)

  • marcusgresham

    The NBA doesn’t have it as much because they have that idiotic gimmick rule where a team can get the ball at half court after certain made baskets.

  • BL

    Hopefully because the four are late to the dance. Romeo should be our number one recruiting target, period. Pull out all the stops. Hope VO and Wade are involved.

  • AZMBNZ

    The TC dilemma point is a good one. When has there ever been an iubb discussion about having too much talent in either the back-court or the front-court? I hope the depth this year translates to domination!

  • That’s right.. You’re not going to be able to press effectively with a 2 ‘big’ lineup like Davis and Bryant. You really do need athletic and helps if they’re long, forwards.. and guards for that matter., that UCLA team that pressed so effectively I think ’64 and ’65..d didn’t have a starter much over 6′ 5″ .. But they were so quick, teams had a lot of trouble getting the ball up the floor against them. Makes you wonder though, with a lot more, bigger and more athletic players, whether that press would’ve been as effective today..