As a Gonzaga basketball fan, I admire Jeremy Jones. As I wrote last year, here’s a guy on a football scholarship at Rice University in Houston, Texas, 200 miles from his San Antonio home. He was fulfilling a family tradition, his father and a brother both played college football in Houston. The problem was this former quarterback loved basketball. He walked on to the Rice basketball team and even started two games as a freshman. He could have stayed close to home and continued to play football. If that didn’t work out, he could have played on Rice’s basketball team and possibly have been a three-year starter. In fact, he probably could have starred at a couple of hundred D-1 schools in football or basketball if he wanted.
Nope, he’d watched Gonzaga play Duke at the Elite Eight in Houston and decided he wanted to be a Zag basketball player. He talked to Tommy Lloyd about joining the team, was offered a preferred walk-on (get a scholarship only if an extra was available) and traveled from Houston to Spokane. A trip geographically and culturally as different as one can take in the United States. Despite minimal playing time and fighting for minutes against great players, he’s stuck with it for the past four years. He earned a scholarship last season and, according to the Gonzaga Guru website, will receive one this year.
At 6’ 7” and long, Jeremy’s size and skillset allow him to be a shutdown defender, above average rebounder and great at interdicting in the passing lanes. He’s also proven to be a decent penetrator when driving the lane and can hit the occasional jumper. Think of a taller, more athletic Mike Hart. Ten years ago he would be getting big minutes or competing for a starting spot. Unluckily, now he’s competing against Zach Norvell, Corey Kispert and some guy named Rui.
Sadly, minutes this season will again be hard to find. Like last year, Jeremy will play when the Zags go small where he can play either the 3 or 4. He’ll also get minutes at the end of a half or the game as a defensive stopper. Other than those scenarios, I can’t see him getting much more playing time, the team is just too deep.
While his court time during games has been limited, one has to wonder how much Nigel-Williams Goss, Josh Perkins and Zach Norvell’s games have improved playing against Jeremy in practice for two or more years. He’s definitely been a valuable member of the team during their most successful period. Here’s a guy who’s followed his dream playing with and against the nation’s best basketball players while getting a great education. Enjoy your final year at Gonzaga Jeremy and best of luck after graduation.