Freshman Focus: Curtis Jones

  • 08/17/2016 3:10 pm in

“Freshman Focus” is an Inside the Hall series on each of Indiana’s four incoming freshmen. Over the summer we took an in-depth look at all four of IU’s freshmen. Today, our final profile: Curtis Jones. (Previously: Grant Gelon, Devonte Green, De’Ron Davis)

For the third time in four recruiting classes, Indiana dipped into the Boo Williams Nike Elite Youth Basketball (EYBL) program for a recruit.

In 2013, it was Troy Williams, who went on to play three seasons in Bloomington before departing as an early entrant for the NBA draft. In 2014, the Hoosiers landed Robert Johnson, who has started from day one in Bloomington and figures to play a major role on a 2016-17 roster that could contend for another Big Ten title. And in 2016, the Hoosiers landed one of the better combo guards in the country in Curtis Jones.

Jones, who arrived on campus in June at 6-foot-4 and 175 pounds, is expected to carve out a role in a backcourt rotation that will also include Johnson, James Blackmon Jr., Devonte Green and Josh Newkirk.

“I’m impressed with his speed and athleticism,” Tom Crean said of Jones after signing him last winter. “I’m impressed with his quickness. He gets to the glass. He really changes speeds.”

In his final season on Nike’s EYBL circuit with Boo Williams, Jones played primarily off the ball. He averaged 16.1 points in 27.8 minutes per game and shot 35.4 percent from behind the 3-point line.

In EYBL play, over 48 percent of his shot attempts came from behind the 3-point line and he posted an above average effective field goal percentage of 53.

joneschart081716

And as a senior at Huntington Prep, Jones, along with McDonald’s All-American Miles Bridges, led the program to a 25-11 record while competing against a collection of teams that comprised one of nation’s most rigorous schedules.

“I was the leader, tried to be the leader,” Jones told Inside the Hall in April. “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.”

Now as a freshman, Jones will lean on familiar faces as he adjusts to basketball at the college basketball.

He was one of three IU freshmen to spend the summer on campus working out with returning players. He’s known Johnson since he was nine years old and his friendship with Bryant dates back to their days together at Huntington Prep.

That familiarity with Johnson and Bryant, along with his relationship with the coaching staff, were major reasons he chose Indiana.

“It helped a lot. When I got towards the end (of my recruitment), that was the place I felt most comfortable,” Jones told Inside the Hall in the spring. “With coach (Tom) Crean and coach (Tim) Buckley recruiting me and then knowing Rob (Johnson), Thomas (Bryant) and Troy (Williams) a little bit and I really loved (strength) coach Lyonel Anderson.”

The graduation of Yogi Ferrell means Indiana will be without the program’s career leader in both assists and games played.

That means an opportunity to play some point guard for several newcomers, including Jones, could be there. It’s a challenge Jones said he was looking forward to back in the spring.

“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.

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

Filed to:

  • HuntinHoosier86

    Ok, I SWEAR that I was on here last night around 10:30 and somebody with the emoji of the Waterboy posted that he was somehow involved with the student life at IU. He said he was showing around a group of incoming freshman and CuJo was in his group the whole week and he finally worked up the courage to talk basketball with him at the end of week and Curtis said something to the effect of “We (the team) have something realllll special for the fans this year”. If that story is true, I think we can expect amazing things out of this group this season. I’m really excited!

  • Chi-Town Hoosier

    AMEN

  • sarge

    Kansas is going to be good. But in comparison to Duke, UNC and UK, all opponents on last year’s schedule, I would rank them behind those programs. I think Kansas is so good because they have no competition in their conference, similair to UK. UK always has better talent and Duke and UNC usually have better teams IMO. I think we will give Kansas all they want and more. If we start the season anywhere close to the way we ended last season, my money is on the Hoosiers! But I would probably say that no matter what both teams possess on their roster. Give me an IU victory or give me death!

  • Bill Graham

    What if I told you everyone is wrong and JBJ is the starting PG….

  • KelvinSampson87

    Why is he being compared to RJ and not JBJ to whom he seems to have a much more similar style of play and body type?

  • Bill Graham

    Ya but I’m more worried about Josh Jackson…O.G. is a great defender but he’s never guarded anyone as good as Jackson.

  • BL4IU

    If he earns it, all the better.

  • BL4IU

    OG may not guard Jackson; may take Bragg, Jr. If he does (guard Jackson) that cuts both ways; Jackson hasn’t seen a defender like OG.

    This Kansas team is for real. Don’t see us shutting down any of their kids. Just hope we can slow them down and hold our own. I’d feel better if we were playing them later in the season because we’d be more settled into defined roles and most likely, DD would be rolling.

  • Hoosier Pride

    Very much in agreement here. Going to have to pick our poison with them. Josh Jackson is a great prospect don’t get me wrong, but as you said he has never had to try to get his against a defender like OG, let alone with a Thomas Bryant lurking in the paint and, heck, I hope a DD down there too. Very excited for this game. Hope we can make a statement.

  • TomJameson

    Hahaha .. I know there is a lot of opposition to a 3 guard lineup, but I think that is exactly what CTC will start with. JN, RJ, JBJ, CH/OG, TB. Now I can see a 2-guard lineup with JN/RJ, JBJ, CH, OG, TB. I’m okay with that lineup only because there will be 3 perimeter threats to spread the floor. Actually I’m okay with any lineup that has 3 perimeter threats on the floor … 3 real and consistent 3-point threats. In my first lineup I am assuming that JN is back more to his freshman shooting percentages. (and yes, I know what assumptions do).

    Overall though, I agree that our guard play is being undervalued by many. I’m thinking the way we look at this moment, we have real good guard play for this year and next.

    I’m really hyped for this season. I just have a feeling. 🙂

  • TomJameson

    Well. I agree about Newkirk becoming the “main” PG. I also strongly agree that we can’t go wrong with RJ either. Now, JBJ may play some point, time-to-time, but he will be in the starting lineup primarily to score.

    Bill, I also like what you said about Jones. But then what BL4IU said about “5 guards” rings true also. Consider what I think are our 5 best guards (in no particular order other than how listed on the roster) … CuJo, JBJ, RJ, DG, JN,

  • SilentBob

    I’ve been swinging back and fourth on this one all summer. Mainly cause of the arguments of you and a few others. But at the end of the day, I still feel that Johnsons versatility would make for an amazing sixth man. I’m not saying he’s the third best guard on the team at all, I think all around he is the best, and the versatility is a big part of that. He will get starters minutes, and should, but in my fantasy world Id like to see that come off the bench

  • I am Baby Cakes

    No competition? Yet was arguably the best conference with them, Oklahoma, Iowa State and Texas. Kansas is just that good. And good chance they’ll be better this year than last year with an incoming freshman like Jackson and returnees like Mason, Graham and Bragg.

  • sarge

    Oklahoma was blown out in the final four by a record margin. Iowa State lost to Virginia in a game in which they never led and were behind by double digits most of the game. Texas lost in the first round. The Big 12 struggled against competition of the same caliber in the tournament. Which is why I think the conference was overrated and why Kansas has no competition. Oklahoma was without a doubt the second best team in the conference, and although they reached the final four, they might as well had not even showed up to play. They were also in the West bracket, which was considered by far the easiest draw of the four brackets. Put IU in the West and we reach a Final Four last year.

  • I am Baby Cakes

    Right…. I’ll just lol and move on.

  • sarge

    I’m just basing it off of tournament results. Obviously the ACC and Big East did well in the big dance. They had the strongest teams. I am not saying the Big Ten did better. But I believe IU would have done better if we didn’t have a tough draw. Kansas proved they were good, but they are beatable. They have the same benefit UK has every year, which is get the best recruits, because you smash your way through conference putting up good numbers and then getting a great seed and an easier road to the final four. Except that didn’t happen with UK this year, and they had to finally play IU.

  • IUMIKE1

    Every season and team is different, but I think all one needs to do is look at last year to understand that this team’s make up has it’s best chance to get to where we all want to be by playing a two guard lineup. If playing a two guard line up limited our ability to capitalize on scoring from behind the arc I would feel differently, but if it does, it is only in such a small way that what we gain by not playing three true guards is more than offset by what we gain by going with two true guards.

  • I am Baby Cakes

    Right.. because only the NCAA tournaments is how we should rate teams. Not how they played in the season? Take a few games over the vast majority. So Michigan State who waxed us was super overrated if you watched their game against MTSU.

  • I am Baby Cakes

    Or how about us? The B1G champs who got destroyed by the ACC Champs?

  • sarge

    Are you proving my point? UNC was the second best team by my measuring stick i used. I said the Big Ten didn’t do better. I thought MSU was overrated last year. Arguably the biggest upset in tournament history and they had the easiest Big schedule, didn’t win the conference and somehow got a higher seed than us.

  • sarge

    Not to mention the ACC and Big East have a great record of winning the tournament recently. I don’t think what I said is that hard to believe.

  • I am Baby Cakes

    You know the best team doesn’t always win right?

  • sarge

    Right… I will be the one to LOL and move on this time.

  • Bill Graham

    Our guards are better than theirs Mason is vastly overrated…I watched over 10 of their games last year. Devonte Graham is good though but James and Rob are much more talented offensively than those two…their strength is actually in their frontcourt although many people don’t realize it…thank god newman has to sit out a year!