By Gabriel Lee
There are many things for Ryerson students to look forward to in the future: the new Image Arts Building, the opening of Maple Leaf Gardens and Jahmal Jones.
Originally from Mississauga, Jones is one of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s top point guards and is a big reason for the men’s basketball team’s 7-10 record. Throughout those 17 games, Jones has averaged 17.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and three assists, and leads all of Ontario with 104 free throws made.
With the numbers that he has posted this season, head coach Roy Rana said that Jones is definitely in the running for the OUA’s rookie of the year award.
“He certainly is going to be in that conversation but we have a lot of basketball [left] to play,” said Rana. “There are a lot of other rookies across the country that have had great seasons but certainly he has to be in that conversation.”
While a lot of people know about Jones’ abilities on the court, many are oblivious to the fact that he has persevered through a potentially career threatening injury.
Rewind back to the summer of 2009, when Jones was taking part at a recruiting camp that has served as the launching pad for several NBA players including Lebron James. As he was driving hard to the hoop to take off for a high-flying finish, Jones was undercut by a defender. The result, a torn meniscus that he only had surgery on this past summer.
“I was stubborn I didn’t want to wear a knee brace or have surgery or anything like that. The thing was if I kept playing on it, who knows how long I’d be playing,” Jones wonders. “It was when Rana told me to have surgery and took care of me that I knew this place was like my home.”
Having fully recovered from the injury, Jones is not only looking to lead the Rams deep into the playoffs, but his future as well.
“If I continue to soak in the ingredients the coaching staff has given me. Hopefully I’ll be playing overseas,” said Jones. “Some people think that’s [only] a dream, but it’s actually a goal. I take basketball very seriously.”
For those who have never seen Jones in action, he is a solid on-ball defender who plays at a speed that his opponents and teammates alike have trouble matching.
“He is the quickest guy with or without the ball,” said Ray Bala. “I’d be hard pressed to find someone in the OUA that is quicker than him.”
Bala, who writes about college basketball for raptorshq.com, said though he is new to Rana’s system, Jones is playing with the poise of a veteran.
“It’s very difficult coming into his position,” said Bala. “[As a rookie] point guard on a new team you have to be a puppet master for the coach. He does not look like a rookie out there.”
Along with injured forward Bjorn Michaelsen, Jones was one of Rana’s top recruiting targets last year and is a player Ryerson’s up and coming basketball program can build around.
While he likes to remain humble about it, Jones admits the lure of coming into a program where he could make an immediate impact was too much to pass up.
“You know how most freshmans sit on the bench and have to earn everything?” Jones asked.
“[Well] I wanted to come in and be the guy to change the culture of Ryerson basketball. I think that was the main thing. Everything was brand new, and I’d be one of the focal points of the team.”
Despite filling the stat sheet every night, Jones doesn’t see himself as a leader on this team quite yet.
“I’m just a first year guy trying to blend in and see what it’s all about,” Jones said.
On and off the court, Jones has a reserved personality, but to gradually prepare himself to take on a leadership role in the future, he has made an effort to bond with the team’s current co-captain and fifth- year veteran, Ryan McNeilly.
“That’s going to be one of the aspects I have to grow in,” said Jones. “It’s something I’m learning, that communication skill, because I haven’t been that vocal leader, I’d rather lead by example but the coaches want me to start talking more.”
Photo: Chris Dale