Ari Rosenfeld (@realA_rosenfeld)
The recent trend from the local 2015 prospects has been to stay local for college. St. Joe’s just landed Philadelphia Catholic League guards Lamarr Kimble and Chris Clover, Temple added Central Jersey wing Trey Lowe, and Penn picked up South Jersey point guard Jake Silpe.
However, the most highly-touted prospect in the area will be looking to buck that trend.
Archbishop Carroll wing Derrick Jones, who holds more than 20 scholarship offers, has cut his list to nine schools. Only North Carolina, UConn, Louisville, Kentucky, Arizona, Florida, Auburn, Kansas, and UNLV remain in contention for the 6-foot-6 high flyer, with area schools Villanova, Temple, Saint Joseph’s, and Penn State all failing to make the cut.
“It’s something that Derrick wanted,” said Jones’ father, Derrick Jones, Sr. “He’s been local and he’s been to all the local colleges and he just wants a change. The kid just wants a change. It’s nothing personal about the schools themselves; we’ll always be local, we’ll always love the Philly area and the Delaware County area. But he just wants a change. He wants to experience a different part of life.”
Jones has been picking up offers since his freshman year at Carroll, and notable programs like Syracuse, Indiana, and UCLA were also eliminated from consideration. Ultimately, the schools that Jones is still considering offer him one common thing: familiarity.
“That’s the schools that he’s most comfortable with and he likes. He likes their programs,” Jones Sr. said. “Derrick follows a lot of basketball; the schools that he’s picked are the schools that he’s been following for a few years. They’ve shown interest in him, have been talking to him, calling him, as well as talking to me.”
For an short period of time, it looked like Jones might never get to this point. After seeing his recruitment explode last summer and earning offers from Kentucky and Kansas on back-to-back days, a relatively quiet junior season caused some of those schools to ease off on their courtship.
However, Jones came out this summer and proved himself once again, demonstrating an improved jump shot and handle, proving that he could do much more than just throw down dunks.
“Honestly, Derrick’s always had the talent to do it all. Derrick’s an unselfish basketball player,” Jones Sr. said. “Going into the summer he’s adapted and said ‘I have to take more, I have to do more.’ Just working on his jump shot more, working on his handle more. I’m watching the kid everyday come home and go out back and work, go to the park and work. He’s really dedicated and really wants to be at that level. I really know in my heart that he belongs.”
After showing off a much more versatile game, it looks like Jones will be be able to fit in at a variety of positions and in different styles of play at the next level; some coaches even think he could see some time handling the ball at the point guard spot.
“Right now with everybody so far, it’s the ‘2’ and the ‘3’. Some want him to play some ‘1’, ‘2’, and ‘3’,” Jones Sr. said. “With UConn, it could be anywhere, ‘cause that’s how they like to play; they like to be able to shift you in and out. So Derrick could go from, depending on where he’s playing, from the small forward to running the point.
“He definitely gets out in transition and he definitely plays well in transition, but he also has been getting real strong in the halfcourt set as well,” he continued. “I think he can adapt to any one of the systems. It’s really up to him where he wants to go, but I think he can adapt to any environment that you put him in.”
While he can fit in almost anywhere basketball-wise, there are other factors that will influence Jones’ eventual decision. Primarily, the allure of big-time college basketball is something that appeals to him.
“He definitely likes the big crowd and the big stage. He’d definitely like to be televised of course,” Jones Sr. said. “The systems that they run, he likes UConn ‘cause of the way they get out and play; they’ll run that fast break or they’ll get in the half court set and play if they have to. Really, at the end of the day, I’m looking at is as ‘Who’s gonna fit him the best?’ He likes the national stage, he likes the attention, he likes those things.”
Now that he has cut his list, Jones is still not looking to make a decision anytime soon.
He has yet to visit most of the schools on his list. UConn will be conducting an in-home visit on September 11, and Jones Sr. is hoping more schools reach out to do the same. However, Jones will wait until after the high school season to take his official visits and ultimately make his decision.
“It’s a process that’s new to us, and definitely new to me, and I’m just trying to take it one step at a time so we make the right decision,” his father said. “We’re really just trying to feel ‘em out because all of ‘em are great schools that fit him. It’s really hard to choose when you’ve got so many options to go into, and all of ‘em are great programs. As a kid, he doesn’t want to rush and make the wrong decision. He doesn’t want to go and commit and then decommit.
“I try to teach him a sense of loyalty. So wherever we commit, that’s where we’re going, plain and simple. Basically, we’re just gonna take our time.”