When Marquette head coach Buzz Williams likened incoming freshman Jamail Jones to former Marquette forward and current NBA player Wesley Matthews, Jones could only smile and agree.
“He’s a great defender, he can shoot, and he’s just a good all-around player and a great teammate,” Jones said of Matthews. “I see a lot of similarities with me and Wes, that’s actually a perfect comparison.” .
Marquette is hoping Jones can have the same impact that Matthews, who averaged nine points and four rebounds, had his freshman year. If the summer is any indication of how he’ll perform in 2010, Marquette could be in for a pleasant surprise on the hardwood. .
A highly recruited guard/forward from Stone Mountain, Ga., Jones chose Marquette over the likes of Oklahoma, Xavier, and Mississippi State, and noted that the Marquette atmosphere felt like home to him, and that the fan base he saw at Marquette Madness was a passionate one. .
“The atmosphere here, the fans, the coaching staff, they treat the players like their own sons,” said Jones. “It’s not a team here, it’s more of a family and I really liked that.” .
That chemistry has certainly carried over into the prelude to his freshman season, and he noted that boot camp brought the team together in a way he couldn’t have ever imagined. .
Jones was the first freshman to arrive on campus and made the most of it, leading head trainer Todd Smith to say he was the most impressive newcomer during summer workouts. .
The 6-foot-6-inch forward knows that his work during the summer will translate on the court, where he is focused on making his teammates better and preparing to battle with some of the Big East’s best. .
“The Big East is such a physical conference with a lot of pushing, elbowing, and shoving,” said Jones. “What helped me progress so much [in the summer] was my mindset. Every day I went in there wanting to get better and wanted to work hard. Just trying to prove to my teammates that I belong here.” .
On the court, Jones isn’t quite sure where he fits in just yet as Buzz Williams admitted offense has not been a huge part of practice thus far. .
“I really don’t have an idea what my role is,” said Jones. “But I have a feeling I’ll be around the 3 spot, rebounding and doing all the little things that a freshman does. Just doing whatever’s best to help the team win. .
I see myself starting off by hitting the offensive rebounds, just getting my teammates involved, hitting open shots when needed, all the little things. .
I’ve also worked on putting the ball on the floor and working on my defense. Here at Marquette, you have to guard the ball a lot. If you don’t guard the ball you’ll be sitting on the bench,” he added. .
He has also received some help along the way from the upperclassmen about what to expect once the season gets going. .
“With me as an individual, Dwight Buycks has really taken me under his wing, showing me the ropes and telling me what I need to do and work on,” Jones said. “As a team, the seniors have really done a great job. The seniors and DJO are showing [the freshmen] what we have to do. .
When asked what his goals were heading into his freshman season, Jones made it very clear. .
“Always play to win.” .