Last year, two players enrolled in January before National Signing Day to get in a semester's worth of training and practice in order to hit the ground running in the fall: quarterback David Watford and defensive end Daquan Romero. Virginia Athletics is at it again, except this time ... in basketball? It's being reported everywhere that the star Fishburne Military School (Waynesboro, Va.)point guard, 6-foot-1 Teven Jones, will be enrolling at the University of Virginia this week . Jones will use this semester as his redshirt year and practice with the team to prepare for his freshman season in the fall. He will have four years of eligibility starting in the fall.
Jones was one of four commitments in the Class of 2012, which is ranked by ESPN as the No. 19 class in the country. He is probably the least touted of the group, as the other three are all ranked in the ESPNU 100 - No. 61 Justin Anderson, No. 71 Evan Nolte and No. 77 Mike Tobey.
As a little background, Jones originally graduated from A.L. Brown (Kannapolis, N.C.), where, according to TheSabre, he had a 3.6 GPA. There, he was an all-state receiver, amassing over 1,000 yards his senior year. His decision to attend Fishburne was not founded in academics (he has a 3.0 GPA at Fishburne), but rather, was a calculated move to gain more exposure from Division I coaches. He was offered a scholarship from Virginia in September, which he accepted immediately.
The Washington Post's Steve Yanda has more on Jones's decision to enroll early:
[Fishburne boys' basketball coach Ed] Huckaby said that after he heard about the decisions of Harrell and Johnson to transfer from Virginia, he thought about it for a day and then mentioned to his assistants the idea of Jones heading to the Cavaliers early. Huckaby said Jones already was an academic qualifier and was holding a 3.0 grade-point average while taking college-level courses at Fishburne.
Then Huckaby called Virginia assistant Ritchie McKay and discussed the possibility with him. McKay ran the idea past Bennett, and quickly the wheels were in motion to put the plan into action.
"It was an immediate yes" from Virginia's coaching staff, Huckaby said.
Virginia officials have not confirmed or commented on this development, which makes plenty of sense if Jones is still working on the enrollment process. (Update: About an hour after we posted this, Bennett announced that Jones would indeed be enrolling early."Coach Ed Huckaby at Fishburne Military Academy initially approached us about this possibility," Bennett said in today's release. "We checked into it and were excited when we learned it would work out. Our staff appreciates Coach Huckaby's willingness to assist Teven and our program at the expense of losing a very good player from his team.")
Off the top of my head, I can't think of another time when a basketball player has enrolled in the spring semester, much less doing so only to be redshirted that year. For reasons too obvious to list, it makes sense that Jones is taking his redshirt this season.
With only nine scholarship players, one benefit of this move is simply that an extra body is added for practices - one with a greater skill set than perhaps the walk-on or practice teams can offer. Similarly, depending on his learning curve, if Virginia gets hit with another injury later on down the stretch (like the ever-delicate Sammy Zeglinski), the possibility to lift the redshirt may be available. Doubtful, but a possibility nonetheless.
Perhaps the greater benefit, though, is that looking forward to the 2012-2013 season, Virginia might be hurting for some talent, after Zeglinski graduates. Yes, Bub Evans will still be available to run the point, and there's Paul Jesperson and the very talented Malcolm Brogdon, but three men for two positions does not a complete team make. Enrolling now means that come the first game next November, Jones shouldn't be subject to "freshman mistakes" like the rest of his classmates, and will be familiar enough with the schemes to be effective from Day 1.
Of course, there are also some potential drawbacks here. I'm very curious to know what kind of promises may have been made to Jones. The big story this year has been that of Bennett's rookie class of six, only two remain as a result of transfers. Are these guys being promised playing time that, from any rational approach, is simply unlikely? If I'm a high school player (or just fresh out of high school, as the case may be), I can see a situation where I get quality minutes early in the fall, even if reality would beg to differ. By enrolling him early, is Virginia making promises along the lines of, "enroll now, work hard, take your redshirt now, and you'll be all set for the fall"? Something like this could be interpreted by a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed rookie as meaning that a redshirt now means a starting position very soon next year. That's just not the case.
Jones did not play in last night's contest between Fishburne Military and Southern Virginia University JV. According to TheSabre, he averaged 18.9 points per game (57% from the field) and had a five-to-two assist-to-turnover ratio through 16 games this season. During those 16 games, FMS was 12-4.
Here are some additional links covering the story:
- FMS point guard enrolling early at UVa (Augusta Free Press)
- Recruit Teven Jones to join Virginia men's basketball team a semester early (Washington Post)
- Teven Jones Joining Hoos This Month (TheSabre)
- Jones to enroll early at UVa (CavsCorner.com)
- UVa adds recruit early, and Duke's Krzyzewski raves about Bennett's defense (Daily Press)