Monday, June 30, 2014

Memorable Monday: Dominique Jones

Meet Dominique Jones.
The most underrated, under-appreciated guard in the Big East last season, Jones operates offense for the South Florida Bulls. He may not be equated with the same star power as Big East poster boys such as Luke Harangody, Hasheem Thabeet, Scottie Reynolds, and myriad others in one of the nation’s ultra-potent conferences.

That’s just fine with him.

A bullish 6-foot-4 sophomore on the downtrodden, dungeon-dwelling Big East program that’s starving for a national glance, Jones has nary an ounce of worry about skyrocketing to stardom.

Not being mentioned in the same breath as other top-flight Big East guards has never taxed or tormented him.

Throughout Jones’ career, coaches learn that individual shine headlines and the personal desires (even the fact that he’s never cracked the All Big East teams, despite staunch numbers that validate his strong candidacy) are trounced by his attributes as a Team Guy.

Jones doesn’t keep tabs on his numbers or mentions in Big East forums, hound the Public Relations guy for stat sheets, or compare himself to other high volume scorers/playmaking guards who may be treated to more shine.

 The obscurity was never a concern. 

Not for Jones, he of the thick southern drawl and dieseled-up, tattoo-drenched arms.

He didn’t self-boast about establishing a new high-water mark when he hung 36 on Iona College. He was more content with scoring a non-conference victory to halt a two-game slide. At South Florida, pretty much any non-conference game has become a must-win, considering the strength of schedule in the Big East.

With a revived recruiting class featuring 6-11 JUCO transfer Jarrid Famous, an athletic five-man with quick feet and a baseline to baseline game, those strong enough to live through the turbulent times are banking on a revival. 

A polished scorer and JUCO Player of the Year at Westchester Community College (Valhalla, NY), Famous' towering presence helps emphasize the high-low attack. It will also take some of the pressure off Jones, a creator before his scoring heightened.


Jones was a veritable batman for the Bulls last season, leading the team in essential categories such as points (18.1), assists (3.9), and rebounds (5.6). Despite this, he was still unknown to the masses. The cream always rises to the top, except when your squad simply does not have the wherewithal to swim with the sharks of the deep Big East ocean.

Although it was never his intention, Jones proved time and time again that he can “get his.”

Jones shredded Bobby Huggins’ complex West Virginia defense to the tune of 35 points. He scored 29 points on a full menu of drives, pull-up jumpers, free throws, and transition leakouts and snared eight boards against Providence.

 Subscribing to the role of “iron man,” which requires he constantly eschew foul trouble, Jones rarely played under 32 minutes in a game this season.

“I just want to be the face of the organization. If you look at it, our team is progressing,” Jones says.
“I feel like we take steps back sometimes, but we have to keep pushing forward and get the best out of [next] season. Our goal is to just be prepared for the Big East tournament, get as many wins as we can. We need to keep getting better, set history, and just keep flowing.

“Our main thing is to just keep going, keep going, keep it going. If a team rips off a little run, we don’t want to let up. We want to be right there and respond with a little run.”

If the Bulls—who finally scored that upset they’ve been thirsting for with a shocking, 57-56 victory over Marquette back on February 6—improve next season, Jones will make a little run to the Big East First Team.

Jones starred at Lake Wales High, evolving into a First Team 4A all-state selection after averaging 21 points, 10 boards, and seven assists his senior year. The kid is Lake Wales through and through. He represents the school everywhere he goes.

When accidently asked if he played at a neighboring, rival high school, Jones served up a terse response: “Hell no!” He said.

"Lake Wales, bro. Lake Wales."


A year later, Jones has fled from the shadows. He announced his presence with a ferocious one-handed banger during Sunday's 75-68 victory over UCONN.

South Florida's expunging of the Huskies, plagued by debilitating patterns of inconsistency this season, puts the Bulls in a fight for the program’s first NCAA tournament berth in 18 years.

Jones has once again led the way for USF (19-11, 9-9 Big East), which languished around the .500 mark before ripping off three of their last four in-conference games. The junior is averaging 21.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, and nearly 4 dimes.

The high-motored Jones has created an inside-outside presence with Famous--who had been heavily pursued by Arizona and Seton Hall--and fellow big man Gus Gilchrist.

Famous, a mobile big who has developed a once-raw post game and scoring acumen, is averaging 11 points and 7.6 boards. Gilchrist is averaging 15 and six.