The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

October 20, 2011

West Virginia’s Jones carves out his own identity

MORGANTOWN — For the second consecutive year, West Virginia University’s Kevin Jones has been named to the preseason All-Big East team.

This year he hopes to live up to the billing.

A season ago, Jones was something of a lost soul coming into the season, overwhelmed by the expectations that surrounded him in what many believed would be his final year with the Mountaineers. He was supposed to be all-league but thought he had to be all-world.

Instead of being the best that Kevin Jones could be, he tried to be the departed Da’Sean Butler and Kevin Jones all rolled up into one, and anything south of Michael Jordan couldn’t live up to that.

“Obviously, I’m not Da’Sean,” Jones said the other day before departing for New York and Big East media day, where the Mountaineers were selected to finish seventh in the conference. “Nobody is going to fill his shoes. I wasn’t trying to do that personally. I was trying to play my game, but I put more pressure on myself than anyone could put on me.”

The more he pressured himself, the worse he played.

He got off to a slow start, scoring 9, 12, 10 and 9 points in the first four games. He never really recovered, actually scoring slightly less as a junior than he did as a sophomore, averaging 13.1 points a game.

“I expect a lot out of myself,” he said. “When I’m not playing well, I take it out on myself. That got me out of my game.”

He had to do a lot of soul searching but survived due to the strength of his character and came on to realize who he was and what he had to do to be at his best.

“Last year was a maturing process. I did better with it toward the end of the year. I found out a lot of things about myself,” he admitted.

Coach Bob Huggins watched Jones struggle last year and understood what he was going through, as you might expect from a coach who is beginning to push 700 career victories would do.

“Da’Sean went through the same thing, and Joe Alexander went through it before that,” Huggins said. “Everybody wanted him to be Da’Sean, but he wasn’t Da’Sean. Everybody has their own things that they do well, and they have to stay away from the things they don’t do well. If everyone does that, then you generally have a pretty good team.”

The thing is that Jones lost his way not trying to make himself “The Man” but simply out of trying to improve the team that was without Butler for the first time in four years.

“It wasn’t me going out there trying to impress anyone,” he said. “I was doing what I thought the team needed me to do to win, but at times it was actually hurting my team. By the time I realized that, it was toward the end of the year and that’s when I started playing better.”

Jones is a totally different player than Butler. He doesn’t have the versatility, the ball-handling skills. He is more of a rebounder, less of a scorer. He is more a stationary shooter.

“He just has to continue to do what KJ does, and that is make open shots and rebound the ball,” Huggins said. “He is our best defender. He is a three-man that can guard the five. He has to continue to do what he does.”

Jones is on board with that concept.

“I have to go in with that mindset from the beginning, not being anybody else but just being the best Kevin Jones I can be,” he said.

And that’s not bad. While not Butler, he has carved out quite a career of his own and done it quietly and without fanfare.

“He can conceivably be in the top 10 in scoring and top 15 in rebounding,” Huggins said. “He could be the best offensive rebounder here. That is pretty good, especially at a place like this that has had some good guys play here. That is a heck of a career.”

There were doubts this winter whether he would be back to continue that career as a senior, announcing for the NBA draft but quickly withdrawing his application.

He came back to a team that needs him for his experience and leadership, as there is no more Joe Mazzulla around and there is a lot of youth.

“It’s going to be a crazy year for us, and how we handle it will determine how far we can go,” he said.

He will try to take up some of the slack left by Mazzulla’s graduation.

“There is a fine line. You want to encourage everyone to do good, but at the time there’s only so long you can wait for someone to come through. It’s our last go-round; we want to make it special. Our teammates understand that. They want to see us do that,” Jones said.

Email Bob Hertzel at Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

  • WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

    One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback

    Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
    He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.

    April 13, 2014

  • Moore ‘back at home’ under center

    There are a couple of ways to look at what Logan Moore did this spring after being moved back to quarterback and given a chance to compete for what is a wide open job, as wide open at the end of the spring as it was coming in.
    The first is to say that he didn’t wow Dana Holgorsen to the point that he’s willing to say he’s the leader going into summer drills, but that would be shortsighted considering from where Moore came.

    April 13, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos