Posted On: 02/27/18 3:38 PM
John Curtis’ Donell Jones has slid through the cracks for far too long.
At 6-foot-4 and possibly still growing, the 195-pound prospect has all the tools to play at the Division I level as a two-guard that can put the ball in the basket in a multitude of ways. He has size, length, athleticism and skill, competes at a high level every night and is a full academic qualifier boasting a 3.3 GPA with a 26 on his ACT.
So why aren’t colleges all over him?
To start, Jones is a 3-sport athlete who also plays football and track but didn’t play AAU basketball where college coaches are able to get a closer look at players. He was once a quarterback before switching over to wide receiver but the Patriots are a running team which didn’t give Jones much of a chance to showcase his ability.
As a junior last season on the basketball team, he was overshadowed by guard Kai Morgan and forward Ryghe Lyons, the latter of whom is now a freshman at Nicholls State. He still posted averages of about 15 points per game with five rebounds and three assists but the Patriots didn’t get much attention despite posting a 24-10 record in the regular season and advancing to the Division I quarterfinals.
Curtis’ regular season record dropped to 12-16 this year, 6-6 in 9-5A, but most of those losses came without Jones and several other players who were members of the football team, which advanced all the way to the Division I title game in the Superdome.
The Patriots have been on a roll as of late, though, and head into Tuesday’s playoff game against St. Augustine winning five of their last six games. They defeated several quality teams along the way including Brother Martin, Jesuit and Country Day, the last of which handed Riverside its only official loss of the season.
Jones put up a game-high 24 points with 11 rebounds against Country Day and scored 17 with 10 rebounds against Jesuit despite sitting out the entire third quarter after picking up three fouls in the first half.
“(Earlier in the season) we were trying to get to know each other and trying to find ourselves,” said Jones, whose 11th-seeded Patriots will look to extend their season tonight (Feb. 27) at No. 6 St. Augustine. “I’m pretty confident (going into the playoffs). Lately we’ve been beating pretty good teams like the big win against Country Day and that gave us a lot more confidence than what we had as a team.”
Jones has tried to keep his focus on the season rather than his recruiting, which is beginning to pick up a bit. LSU-Alexandria was in attendance for Jones’ game against Jesuit and the Generals extended an offer at the end of the night.
He is also receiving interest from Arkansas-Fort Smith as well as local community colleges and will consider those options as well as others that may come along in the future. Jones genuinely wants a chance to play on the Division I level but knows beggars can’t be choosers at this point in the recruiting process.
“I’m trying to be patient and I’ve been pursuing a few schools myself,” said Jones, who was the Division I high jump runner-up at the indoor state championships held on February 17. “But I guess I just have to wait until they come around. It’s been tough but I can’t let it get to me and affect my season or affect my game.”
Jones is more than willing to continue his college career outside the state of Louisiana and will select the best option available to him when it’s time to do so. He has the support of his coaches and teammates with Curtis coach Mike Krajcer calling him “a diamond in the rough” and others have voiced their endorsement via Twitter.
Great kid! Hard worker! Deserves a shot! https://t.co/iCsUenHUUp
— Jeff Curtis (@jccscoachjeff) February 24, 2018
Somebody will get a winner with Donell. Great teammate and athlete. https://t.co/iLdIhVp2ZQ
— William Welch (@realWillBWelch) February 24, 2018
You can certainly see that Jones holds his teammates to a high standard when he’s on the floor and he’s also one of the first to his feet on the bench when one of them makes a play. He stayed engaged the entire third quarter against Jesuit while on the bench with three fouls and also accepted his role on the football team despite having limited chances to showcase his abilities due to the style of offense.
Jones is open to playing AAU basketball this summer in hopes of getting in front of more coaches, but doesn’t have a team as of yet. He’ll be a huge pickup for whichever college program can land him and you can get a closer look at his skill set in the highlights below against Country Day and Jesuit.