NOTE: This is the first in a new feature to the ESPN Boston High Schools section, in which we break down the game of the state's premier athletes with the aid of game film. First up is Boston College High junior guard Jameilen Jones, courtesy of correspondent Lucas Shapiro.
Last year, few players in the entire state of Massachusetts were able to challenge St. John's Prep's Notre Dame-bound superstar Pat Connaughton. He dominated the competition unlike any player in recent years, but there was one player who showed out well against him.
The most interesting part about it: this player was just a sophomore.
I am referring to Jameilen Jones, now a junior captain for Boston College High, who scored 15 loud points on St John’s Prep in the Comcast IAABO Board 27 Tournament championship game last February. Jones showed promise then, and has continued to make good on that promise. His latest such effort came in a 56-41 win over the Brockton Boxers in their season-opener at home last Tuesday night.
Jones is a 6-foot-3 wing with the potential to be one of the big stars in the MIAA this season. Using footage from Tuesday night's win, here is a video breakdown of his game’s strengths and weaknesses:
As a wing player in the MIAA, there are few players with Jones’ combination of size and speed. He is fast and powerful with the ball in his hands, but that is not what makes him special in transition.
Jones’ best attribute by far is his body control. As you can see in the first two clips, Jones has a way of contorting his body right before he finishes at the rim. This makes it nearly impossible for defenders to block his shot.
He is also good at drawing the foul and getting to the line. Look at the defender in the last clip -- he twists his body at the last second, fearing that Jones will go over him. This allowed Jones to get two free shots.
Moving Without the Ball
In today’s basketball climate, it is hard to find stars (specifically guards) that do not dominate the ball. Jones is one of those rare breeds who can be as effective without the ball as he is with it. I would even argue he is better without it.
In the first three clips, Jones puts his athleticism and coordination on display. Perhaps if he had a defender with better awareness, he would have been boxed out better on all three of these plays. He does, however, have a knack for making his defender have to always look for him. That’s a trait of a true go-to player.
The fourth and fifth clips show Jones’ ability to get open on the wing. In the fourth clip, had Muigai Unaka not lost the ball, Jones would have had an easy two points because of his backdoor cut. In the fifth clip, Charles Collins and Unaka must be given credit for making the extra pass to Jones who was wide open. The fact that Jones was open shows his basketball I.Q. The most forgotten man on inbounds plays is usually the inbounder. Jones simply pops out in the area where he is most comfortable shooting, and knocks down the open jumper.
At this point in his high school career, Jones is not a point guard. There were points when he showed off some point-forward qualities though.
In the first two clips, Jones splits two defenders to set up two of his teammates with a shot at the rim. His ability to get both of these passes off at the right split second was impressive. What were even more impressive were his passing fundamentals.
On both passes, Jones passed the ball with two hands with both feet on the floor. This might sound like a basic, but you would not believe how many young players have a bad habit of doing one-handed passes or jump passes nowadays.
On the third clip, Jones feeds Standy Merizier in the mid-post area perfectly. Merizier, however, fumbles the ball. The ability to feed the post from the wing is a must-have skill for wing players and Jones.
How Jones Can Take the Next Step
By no means did Jones have a perfect game against Brockton. In fact, he got off to a very cold start by shooting 2 for 9 from the field. At this point, Jones’ main problem is shot selection. It is not because he is a selfish player. In fact, his role on the team is to take most of the shots. His issue appears to be something else.
On this possession, Jones is on the left wing. His defender is closing out on him and Jones hits him with an up-fake. As you can tell already, his defender is giving him the middle.
Once Jones gets in the lane, two defenders collapse on him. The logical proceeding move would be to hit Jared Collins with a pass to knock down a mid-range jump shot (Collins might have the best mid-range shot of anyone on the team. While it might have been a tough pass, even giving the ball off to Standy Merizier on the left block would have been a good decision. Instead, Jones hucks up a runner with three guys draped all over him. Jones manages to get a lucky bounce.
Here are three other bad shots Jones took:
In the first clip, Jones took off from too far away from the hoop. In other players (not in this video), Jones seemed to be having trouble getting to the rim at the right angle. In the second clip, Jones takes a boneheaded three-pointer. Not only are there five Brockton players in the paint, leaving zero chance for a BC High rebound, but also there were also 27 seconds left on the shot clock. In the third clip, Jones takes a contested pull-up mid-range shot with 23 seconds left on the clock while teammate Charles Collins is wide open to his right in the middle of the lane.
Some of these shots were bad decisions and could have been open shots for teammates. Perhaps Jones’ court vision is not at the same level of his passing ability yet. That is a skill that comes with maturity.
Jameilen Jones has many qualities of a star. He is big, athletic, and has a high basketball I.Q. He is unselfish and plays hard.
Eagles head coach Bill Loughnane could not have put it any better when he told reporters post-game, "He's very unselfish. If he has it, we want him to go. If he doesn't, he's willing to let a teammate go. That's one of his strengths."
Loughnane could not have broken down Jones’ game any better.
Once Jones watches film of this game and many games in the future and realizes how he can get better shots or looks for his teammates, he will take the next step in becoming one of the special players in the MIAA.