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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Lights out: Kam Jones takes the reins

Kam Jones scored 30 points in March 30 win over Xavier as Kolek was out with an injury. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Amid the news of seniors Tyler Kolek and Oso Ighodaro declaring for the NBA Draft, Marquette’s junior guard Kam Jones announced on his Instagram that he was coming back. 

Jones has been the starting shooting guard in one of the best backcourts in the country for the past two seasons. With Kolek being draft-bound, Jones will have the unique chance to lead the team next year and put up even bigger numbers than before. 

Jones and head coach Shaka Smart have been here for three seasons and have made it to six March Madness games in that time. His experience in the national tournament is crucial for his development and maturity as a player and leader of the team. 

He has all the makings of a March Madness standout run. Elite shooting from deep, explosive athleticism and high energy on the court create the perfect formula for a legendary season.

Kolek spent a lot of the time with the ball in his hands as the point guard position, but Jones will have to take over much of these duties even if he continues to play on the wing. Kolek not only averaged 15.3 points and 7.5 assists per game last year, but according to Marquette stats blog Paint Touches, he also created over 1,200 points for the Golden Eagles last season. 

Kolek missed a few games to injury this season and Jones looked great as the primary ball handler and put up great numbers. In the Big East Tournament without Kolek, Jones averaged 17.3 points and 4.3 assists per game and led Marquette to the final where they lost to eventual champions UConn.

Losing Ighodaro and Kolek will take away two core players who had an impact on almost every play in the last few seasons. Jones and other returning starters Stevie Mitchell and David Joplin will have to pick up a lot of slack and neither Mitchell nor Joplin have the offensive capabilities and potential that Jones has. 

Jones has also been finding ways off the court to continue to improve his game. If you haven’t noticed Jones naming his favorite boxers on the jumbotron before games or his IG posts of him inside the ring, he’s been attending the UCC Gym, a boxing gym in Milwaukee. 

The UCC gym has been training Jones and turning him into a proficient boxer. Becoming a boxer and training regularly not only improved his boxing skills but also helped improve his basketball game. 

The footwork and endurance levels required for the demanding training required in boxing perfectly translate across sports. Hitting a euro step in the lane directly correlates to boxing movements and footwork. 

“Boxing has impacted my game on the court in a few different ways: Mental strength, my footwork has gotten better, just being able to move, [and] be lighter on my feet,” Jones said.

Training round after round in the ring and continuously throwing punches can sap the energy out of even the most experienced athletes. Jones is more than used to it by now and is primed and ready for the next basketball season. 

Jones has not only had a bigger role every year, but he has been shooting lights out and his shooting splits and efficiency have also improved every season. He went from averaging 15.1 points on 46.2% shooting to 17.2 and 50.2% this season, a noticeable increase in effectiveness and usage rating.

Jones’ numbers are more than likely to increase again after a full off-season and knowing and preparing that he is the new leader of the team.

Jones has had a top point guard by his side almost every minute and other teams are now going to be focusing on him as the main threat. Understanding this difference is key for Jones to develop his game as the main option on the team now. Being a star requires extra effort to get every bucket and might mean his defense will have to take a step up too. 

After Jones was snubbed of any all-conference recommendations last season, I do not doubt that he will go out there every night prove the doubters wrong by having a career year.

This story was written by Conor McPherson. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter/X at @ConorMcPherson_.

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