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December 14, 2012

Lucky Jones ready to elevate game

Sophomore guard/forward Lucky Jones was told to take his game to the next level this past off-season, and after an impressive summer league showing, those skills seem to be carrying over to when it matters most.

"Everything's falling in place," Jones said. "I make the open shots when I'm open, I drive when I need to drive, I get the defensive rebound, offensive rebound, just going out there, using my motor, and making sure that my opponent doesn't outwork me."

The 6-foot-5, 195 pound Jones, averaging 10.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game this year, acknowledges that he still has a lot to work on. Jones said he still needs to refine his handle and be more aggressive, some of which might come by playing a more natural position.

Jones' role has changed a bit this year. He's been asked to play a lot of the four position due to injuries and inexperience even though he's probably a better wing player. Jones said he worked a lot this offseason on developing into more of a guard, but playing down low has its advantages, specifically with the pick-and-roll.

"I'm not used to setting a lot of screens and stuff like that, but I'll do whatever I have to do to help the team. If that means I have to set the screens, I'll set the screens," he said. "Eventually, I'm setting the screens and I'll have much bigger guys on me who don't like to come out on the wing so we like to run plays to get them off balance and keep them guessing."

Jones also leads the team in rebounding, something he said he was demanded to do-- by his mother.

"A lot of people already know I like to rebound," he said. "My mom always told me, 'if you let anyone get the ball over you, there's going to be a problem.'"

Last year, Jones was considered an energy player off the bench. Now, he's being called on more and needs to be more consistent, according to head coach Andrew Toole.

"I think that there's more he is still capable of doing, and that's part of my job as a coach to try and push for those things and not allow him to settle for being good when he can be more than that," said Toole.

Jones also understands that basketball is a team game and everyone needs to play a role and make sacrifices. During the game at Campbell this year, Jones played through the flu and put up one of his most complete all around games, a 15-5-4 performance.

"I know it was kind of hard for me but we had guys out, we only had like eight players available so I had to do it for the guys," Jones said.

"The effort that he put up at Campbell was incredible for the way he was feeling and what he was able to accomplish," said Toole. "Not only some of the rebounds, but the winning plays he made down the stretch were special plays."

Now, Toole said, it's time to keep building off those "special" performances.

"Unfortunately for Lucky, sometimes he shows us what he's truly capable of and then we hold him to that and he doesn't always like that. Sometimes he likes to fly under the radar," Toole said.

Jones is easy to spot on the court and around campus with a James Harden-like beard he's working on. He said his teammates encouraged him to grow it out so people can learn to "fear-the-beard". Hopefully for himself and his teammates, Jones can not only look like Harden, but play like him too.

"I just try and be there for my team," Jones said. "Make sure that I'm doing the right thing, not worrying about the stats or anything but just worrying about going out there, playing hard and doing what's best for my team."

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