Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Orr Academy's Marlon "Pookie" Jones Heating Up At The Right Time

Chicago Sun-Times Photo

Aspects of Marlon "Pookie" Jones’ game have changed throughout the past 11 months.

A hyper-athletic 6-foot-9 forward out of Chicago Orr Academy, Jones has evolved into a more aggressive attacker.

 The issue Jones creates starts when he draws big defenders out to mid-range. There, he's capable of popping the jumper, shredding them off the dribble, or seizing a seam and surging to the rim.

It was never about athleticism or heart and hustle for Jones, who has been a late bloomer recruiting-wise.  

The senior has recently unveiled a new facet to his game, a feathery jump hook.

Oregon, Memphis, Florida State, Miami, Marquette, San Jose State, Rhode Island and Tulane have all surfaced as potential Division-I destinations for Jones, a key interior presence and beneficiary of Orr Academy's veteran guard play.

“Oregon and Memphis are showing the most love, they have been the most consistent,” said Jones, who scored the Spartans final 12 points, including the game-winner against Farragut Academy.

“I think I’ll probably decide after the season is over with, I have to handle business first.”

That business hopes to operate in the state championship.

“Coach (Lou Adams Sr.) talks about it every day, we really are focusing on a state championship, that’s the goal,” Jones explained.

Jones’ evolution as an all-around threat has been paramount to Orr Academy’s ascent. The Spartans are now 16-2, the lone losses coming against Whitney Young and Michigan power Detroit Pershing.

“We’ve been coming together as a team more and we always focus more on the team than on any individual progress,” said Jones.

“We’re like a family on and off the court. We have tight bonds. We’ve been traveling every weekend together. I think one of the keys to our success is our guards, since they are really in charge of getting everyone together and keeping us in control. Without them, we’d probably be a mess.”

The energetic guard facilitating Orr Academy is Lou Adams Jr. 

A 6-foot-4 gamer and coach's son, Adams has been allergic to searing pressure.

 During the game's vital minutes, which can either expose or heighten a player's stock, Adams has served as a calming influence.

Adams busted into the 2013-2014 campaign with a bang, willing his team to a season-opening 62-57 victory over North Lawndale on Dec.15.

 With Orr buried under clanked free throws and smeared by turnovers, Adams scored on an acrobatic slash and canned an immense corner 3-pointer moments later.

The poise overcame the Spartans' listless and lackluster first half.

Fittingly, it was Adams who knocked back two free throws to ice it with 36 seconds left.

Adams Jr. scored nine of his 14 points during the fourth quarter, a full and final stretch of sustained focus and energy.

 Adams Jr., like Jones, has emerged into a high-major Top 100 prospect.

Adams Jr. has also evolved into an overnight Youtube icon, with an extraterrestrial dunk against Southeastern (MI), during the Derrick Coleman Elite Challenge.

 “I’ve been playing with (Adams) Jr. since the end of my freshman year,” said Jones. “He’s always been smart with the ball."

Jones has been smart by utilizing his freakish wingspan.

“I think I’m most comfortable from mid-range and around the free throw line,” said Jones.

 “Those are the shots I look for.”

Jones is heating up at the right time.

“It’s rare that a high major caliber big man emerges this late in the recruiting process, so you can expect (Jones) to be a very hot commodity amongst Division-I coaches looking for a late pickup to their 2014 class,” explained college basketball scout Daniel Poneman.

“Throughout the course of this season, he has evolved from being a big prospect with potential into a dominant force in the Chicago Public League, arguably one of the best three players in Chicago right now.”

Poneman has taken note of Jones’ offensive skill set, which supplements his active rim protection and constant aggression inside the confines of the paint.

“He can compete athletically with the best front court players in the nation,” Poneman opined.

Jones has visited Memphis and plans on visiting Oregon following the season. More schools have been pouring in at the 11th hour, according to Jones.

If the multi-layered 6-foot-9 forward's pace and progression continues, expect much of the same.