Vander Blue gets all the love. And maybe he should. He’s the one with the gaudy stats, Hollywood haircut and state championship trophy. But here’s something Blue doesn’t have: SportsCenter’s No. 3 play courtesy of a cloud-splitting tomahawk jam.
That honor goes to Jamail Jones — Marquette’s other top recruit. Jones tore the ESPN/RISE National High School Invite a new one last week, scoring 19 points in the tournament opener and 21 in a loss to defending champ Findlay Prep in the final. He also added a few dunks that could make Julius Irving want to re-enroll in flight school.
With Blue being christened the next Jerel McNeal, the next Dwyane Wade, the next Michael Jordan (take your pick) before he’s even played a minute in a Marquette uniform, it’s easy to see how Jones has flown under the radar. Or, judging by the moon man hops he has displayed, maybe he’s actually been flying above the radar all year.
After he dunked his way into the national spotlight, it doesn’t appear that Jones will have to worry about being underappreciated any longer. People are taking notice of his talents. And with more than 15 points and four rebounds a game, there’s a lot to love.
Move over Vander Blue, here comes Mr. Jones:
The star forward from high school powerhouse Montverde Academy goes by the name of Mellow, but his game is louder than a Metallica concert. He can run the floor, guard every position and hit the outside jumper. At 6-foot-6, 205-pounds, Jones is plenty long and has shown the muscle required to hang in the uber competitive Big East. And we already learned he can play above the rim.
Sound like anyone you know?
“First time I met him I thought he was Wesley Matthews,” Buzz Williams said at a November early signing day press conference. “How he looked, how he talked, how he played. He makes his team better and he’s very humble.”
To be sure, Marquette could do a lot worse than the second coming of an NBA grinder averaging nearly 10 points a game for the playoff-bound Utah Jazz. With Jones’ immense basketball artillery and gritty work ethic, it’s not ridiculous to say he could one day eclipse Matthews’ body of work at Marquette.
At the very worst, it sounds like he will be a prototypical Buzz Williams player.
“I think he will be a perfect addition to our team not only on the floor but a perfect addition off the floor,” Williams said. “He doesn’t do anything great but he doesn’t do anything bad either.”
Maybe Buzz doesn’t have a television. Because if there is one thing we know about next season’s team, it’s that Jones will hammer down his share of poster-worthy dunks. The kid can soar with the best of them. If he can ever get his already dangerous jumper to match his athleticism, Buzz may have a stratospheric star on his hands.
The question is, will he be better than Blue? If you asked any current Marquette student, they would probably laugh in your face. Remember, Blue has already been named the Naismith Player of the Year, won four NCAA Championships and broad jumped the Grand Canyon. Remember? He’s that good.
In reality, Blue deserves the heaps of praise he gets, but don’t be shocked if Marquette’s best player in a couple years isn’t the wiry Wisconsin native.
Maybe it’s time that Marquette nation realized there’s more to the basketball team’s future than just Vander Blue. Because if I were Jones, I’d team up with Rodney Dangerfield for the, “You all must have forgot about me” campaign. The kid gets no respect.
As for me, I realize that Marquette actually has two prized recruits on its hands. The SportsCenter topping dunk was that convincing. I hear you, Mellow. I hear you loud and clear.