Took a few days off from these, but wanted to continue our basketball player previews. Next up - Chris Jones.
Class: Redshirt Sophomore
Height/Weight: 6'6" / 213 pounds
2013-14 Stats: 2.4 points, 0.9 rebounds, 0.2 assists per game
Jones got more than his first taste of playing time last season - he appeared in nearly every game (30) for the Panthers. While his minutes were limited in most games, he did have bigger roles in close contests against North Carolina (21 minutes) and Florida State (16 minutes). With a year under his belt and because of Cameron Wright's injury, he expects to play considerably more this season.
Jones' three-point shooting is the thing that sticks out here. Ironically, it was one of his weaknesses last season when he connected on only 24% of his attempts from long-range. Don't let that fool you, though. His shot appears to be much improved and on top of that, he's an athletic kid. Jones is probably one of the few players that is dangerous from three-point range and also able to beat their defender off the dribble. He's not a star, but should take a big step forward this year and give the team an added dimension with another three-point shooter on the floor.
At 80% (20-25 made), he is a good free throw shooter and someone you can probably expect to see at the line at the ends of games. In addition, his rebounds per minute were slightly higher than guards Cam Wright, James Robinson, and Josh Newkirk.
We Jones' biggest issue is probably just finding some consistency. Really, it's a little unfair to call that a weakness because he hasn't played all that much. But in his games over the summer Jones seemed a bit up and down. In one game, he had 12 points on 50% shooting from the field and another, he shot his way to a 3-10 game.
It's fair to say that part of the reason he's expected to play so much is for his three-point ability. But if he's unable to score in that capacity, he's less valuable and Dixon could look to other options. Pitt doesn't need him to score a ton, but they can't have him eat up too many shots if he struggles to make them.
Jones is a bit of an unknown playing so little last season. He averaged 7.4 minutes per game last year and that should go way up - particularly in light of the Wright injury. Defense is always a key thing that Jamie Dixon looks to when factoring in minutes and that, along with Jones' perimeter and three-point shooting, will likely determine how much he plays this year. Minutes will be more scarce when Wright returns from injury, but if he excels in the early part of this year's schedule, he'll find a way to get on the floor.
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