Next up in our player review session, we take a look at Chris Jones. As a redshirt sophomore, Jones displayed some good good upside and came up big in multiple games. I have Chris here with me again to help me further examine Chris Jones.
Final Stat Line - 8.5 Points. 3.1 Rebounds. 2 Assists. 43% Field Goal. 37% Three-Point. 54% Free Throw
Best Game - 15 points 4 rebounds 4 assists in a 65-61 road win over Syracuse.
Worst Game - 0 points in a 67-63 loss to Miami
Chris, how would you rate the progression of Jones from his freshman season to this year? Was his 2015 season a success?
You are asking me this with the fact that Durand Johnson was suspended for the year. That definitely left a void and Jones was one of the guys that had to pick up the slack. He just didn't do it consistently enough if you ask me.
He absolutely improved from his freshman year, but unfortunately with the suspension of Johnson and the two Cam's dealing with injuries, Pitt needed more. Is that fair? Not really, but it's the truth. Jones showed that when he's on, there aren't many other Pitt players I want jacking up shots from deep more than Jones. I think his improvement was noticeable, but he really needed to bring it much more often.
Jones seemed to come up with some monster games this season, does he have the makeup of a consistent big scorer, or just a guy that can get hot on some nights?
I think he can be more consistent and I think a better supporting cast would help him as well. Jones is not a guy that has a lightening quick release or can create his own shot on a continuous basis. He can get better at both of those aspects and if the surrounding cast improves (which I think it does next season) that will open things up for him in a big way.
Jones absolutely has that makeup of a player that coasts along and then when Pitt plays a big game and everyone is focused on Artis, Young, etc, Jones can get hot and light it up for 20 in a hurry. You need those type of players, but you are always going to say about those type of players, "if only he could be more consistent". I think you will see more of it next season for Jones, but probably not at the level people want. If they lock a good defender on him, I believe he'll have problems.
Chris Jones seems to be one of many candidates that could be a starter next season. Do you think he can win a starting spot?
No, and I hate to be that blunt about it, but if everyone is healthy - I don't see it happening. I'm of the thinking that Pitt can be a very good team -.a traditional Jamie Dixon team if you will. They will be very deep and with all the players coming back next season. Jones is going to have to step it way up in order to earn a starting role.
Is he taking over for James Robinson? Not a chance. How about a healthy and very hungry Durand Johnson? I don't see it. Add to the mix, that Pitt will have Damon Wilson coming in (and possibly another recruit), Cam Johnson coming back from injury and you have to throw in Josh Newkirk too (look, I know you people aren't big fans, but he will be a junior and will be back). The only shot I see of Chris Jones starting next season is if Dixon decides he is absolutely in love with DJ being the sixth man. I don't think he will...but I see that (or an injury/suspension) being the only way it happens.
Finally, what are some elements from Jones that he needs to work on heading into next season?
He must work on creating his own shot, moving without the ball, and everyone say it with me now....DEFENSE! I can't express the disappointment it was with this year's team and the lack of passion for defense. I'm not asking them to turn back the clock and be that plodding, UVA-like team, but a little more effort on that side of the ball would be ideal.
The most frustrating thing about defense, you have to have the ability, but the knowledge of the opponent, game situation, and flat out effort and hustle are what defense is all about on that end of the floor. If you want to look at the great defenses in college basketball for any year, it will all start with hustle and knowing your assignments. It has very little to do with actual ability...unless you are 5'2 like me....then ability comes into play. However, when you are of a good athletic pedigree, like a lot of Pitt's players are, you must work hard and understand your role to be a good defensive team. It baffled me that this year's team couldn't grasp that and everyone was at fault, and that absolutely included Jones.