Yes, the basketball season is still almost seven months away. But if Joe Lunardi could publish a 2013 NCAA Tournament Projection, we could start thinking about the 2012-2013 Wahoo squad. (Seriously though...shouldn't bracketologists get April off?). This week, we will run through Tony Bennett's four-member 2012 recruiting class.
Virginia fans have spent approximately half of their free time in the past couple years following Tony Bennett's recruitment of point guards (err...at least some of them have). We've had more than our fair share of near-misses, which I won't get into; instead, let's talk about a "hit" in the form of Teven Jones. Jones, a 6-1 point guard out of Kannapolis, NC verballed to Virginia back in September. However, he comes by way of nearby Fishburne Military Academy, where he took a prep year.
Teven wasn't a highly-touted prospect at the time of his commitment. He lacked "big-time" offers and is rated a mere two stars by ESPN. However, his stock has risen in the past year, and ESPN now reports, "He has all the tools of a high major lead guard. He is a very mature prospect that will contribute immediately at the highest level. He has that rare combination of excellent passing and big time scoring ability."
Maturity is an important aspect to consider when looking at Jones, and it's something that he has continued to grow in during the past 12 months. That process started during his time at Fishburne, a military academy that has effectively developed successful athletes and students. Months later, as transfers led to a UVA team with extra scholarships and a dearth of moving bodies, Jones took the unconventional step of enrolling at Virginia mid-year, using the time to redshirt.
The move, which was actually initiated by Fishburne coach Ed Huckaby, allows Jones to enter fall practice with an early comfort level with the team, the system, and the University. One cannot understate the importance of beginning the process of adjusting to both the speed of the college game and UVA's unique defensive system. Jones is well on his way to doing so.
"It's pretty intense," Jones told Jeff White. "I can tell I'm getting better. Going against Jontel definitely gets me ready for next year, defensively and offensively, because he guards me, and he's one of the best lockdown defenders in the ACC." Teven gets more time to adjust to Virginia's demanding academics, and he has also been sighted at every winter and spring sport one can imagine.
Jones has the type of skill-set one would hope to see from a point guard. He is a high intensity and high IQ player, both vital traits in an athlete stepping into a leadership position. His quickness is an attribute his high school coaches raved about; Teven played wide receiver on his high school team, notably competing against current Virginia RB Kevin Parks, and runs a 4.3 40-yard dash. ESPN also notes Jones's strong on-ball defense, which could only improve under the tutelage of Jontel Evans.
Though Teven Jones is the only one of UVA's four incoming recruits not ranked in the ESPNU Top 100, his role as a true point guard immediately makes him an important part of the roster. Obviously, fourth-year and ACC all-defensive team member Jontel Evans will start and see the vast majority of playing time at the "1." Beyond that, the point guard picture gets hazy. Sammy Zeglinski is graduating, leaving Malcolm Brogdon as the only other returning player with any ability to play the point. (Looking at the roster, one begins to understand the reason for Tony Bennett's pursuit of a transfer to be ready after Jontel's graduation). Thus, Teven Jones's readiness to step in and effectively spell Evans will be important to the team's success.
Admittedly, taking the ball up the court against ACC competition seems like a lot to expect from a lightly-recruited first year. With little knowledge about how his skill set will translate to the college game, it's impossible for anyone to predict exactly what role Jones will be playing when January rolls around. However, his early familiarity with the system and high basketball IQ are reason for optimism that he can step into the backup spot when called on.
Teven's highlight video gives us a taste of what to expect (yes, I realize it's a highlight video, but I am an optimist). The first striking part of his game is his ability to create space and, using a very quick release, get a shot off. While he'll need to make adjustments against top-tier competition, this innate ability will be a nice contrast of styles to the slashing Evans. Additionally, his shooting percentage appears to be 100%, so hopefully he keeps that up. Jones uses some nice cuts to get to the basket and finishes strong once he has the ball. His defensive play at 1:00 is really fun too watch too.
Whitey Reid has some more recent videos on Teven's time at UVA, including interviews and warmup footage, on his channel - check 'em out.