Blast from the past for women's hoops' Jones
Published: Saturday, January 23, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 24, 2010 at 12:16 a.m.
Jordan Jones has traveled a long way in her brief basketball career, but for the first time, today at 1 p.m., her past meets her present in a battle she’s looked forward to all year.
Who: South Carolina at Florida
When: 1 p.m.
Where: O’Connell Center
TV/Radio: SUN/99.5 FM, 104.9 FM
Jones hung up her softball cleats and started seriously playing basketball during her junior year of high school. Two years later she led the SEC in 3-point percentage as a freshman.
After an undefeated senior year at Collins Hill High School in Suwannee, Ga., where she teamed with UConn star Maya Moore and rose to the top of the national ranking, Jones sifted through several college offers and settled on South Carolina.
But a coaching change threw a hitch into her plans at USC after one year. The hurdle brought her to Gainesville, where she leads the Gators in scoring after sitting out a season following her transfer. Today, at the O’Connell Center, Jones takes the court against her former club for the first time.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look at the schedule when it came out to see when and where we’re playing them,” said Jones, who averages 10.4 points, 3.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game this season. “It’s a pride thing. You don’t want to lose to the school you willingly left to go play for a rival school.”
It started when the coach that recruited Jones to USC, Susan Walvius, resigned amid pressure from the program after 11 years at the school. Women’s basketball legend Dawn Staley was brought in to replace Walvius, but the change didn’t sit right with Jones.
“It’s kind of a sense of loyalty,” Jones said. “I loved Coach Walvius and I loved that coaching staff. I went there to play for that coaching staff and now I wasn’t getting to pick who I was going to play for.”
Staley told Jones that she would watch some tape to see how she would fit into her system, but the uncertainty was too much. She was granted her release and was once again able to choose where she continued her career.
“Coach Staley never really tried to get me to stay,” Jones said.
Jones first traveled to Gainesville to meet with Coach Amanda Butler. They went to a UF NCAA Tournament softball game. Jones recalls how the game was so full they had to sit in the outfield grass to watch the action. After the game, her scheduled trips to Georgia, Auburn and Kentucky were cancelled and she enrolled at Florida.
“The atmosphere was great,” Jones said. “And Coach Butler is amazing. She has a vision for the program and I bought into it.”
After a 601-day wait following the transfer, Jones finally suited up for the Gators, where she’s led the team to a 10-9 (3-3 SEC) record. After a rough 3-5 start, the team is starting to find its stride just in time for the game Jones has had circled on her calendar for months.
“I want to win every game really bad,” she said, “but this one has a little extra motivation behind it.”
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