By Jake Lloyd
% Minutes: 53.8
Points: 4.7 ppg
Two-point shooting: 54%
3-point shooting: 45%
FT shooting: 71%
Turnover rate: 21.9%
Rebounding: 3.3 rpg
Defensive reb %: 17.8%
Block %: 2.7%
It’s crazy to think that for a couple confusing months in the spring of 2015, we didn’t even know if Charlie Jones would be offered a scholarship for his junior season. Jones is far from the most talented player on the roster nor the most athletic — although he can jump higher than he gets credit for, and his lateral speed defensively is the best on the team — but he does the most things when he’s on the floor. Part of this is a product of Jones being an opponent’s third, fourth or even fifth focus defensively. Still, the numbers bear out that Jones delivers.
And that’s all a coaching staff can ask for.
Jones’ 107.6 O-rating was by far the best of any rotation player last season (the next-highest was 98.1) as was his 54% shooting on two-pointers. Jones’ 45% 3-point shooting (15-33) was second only to Paris Maragkos, and he took twice as many 3s as the big man. All this is good, but it also leads us back to the ever-vexing question with Jones:
Why doesn’t he shoot more?
Jones’ 3.1 FGA per game was eighth out of the eight regular rotation players (Andrija Matic came in next-lowest at 3.2, but he’s a freshman big). Also telling:
Paris Maragkos, 32.7%
Jesse Reed, 22.1%
Charlie Jones, 12% (last among regulars)
Charlie Jones, 13.1% (last among regulars)
This is all to say that Jones didn’t have a turnover problem, wasn’t a black hole, shot the ball really well, but rarely hoisted. Mike Brennan was repetitive with his remarks during the season that he knew what Jones and Marko Vasic — whose usage numbers were just a tad higher than Jones’ — brought to the table and was pleased with it. He didn’t mention anything about wanting more offense from either.
Would you like Charlie to take more shots (2-3 vs. Lafayette)?
“Nah, not really — 2-3, that’s pretty good, I’ll take 2-3. I think he’s making the right decisions shooting when he should shoot.”— Mike Brennan, Feb. 17
Still, you have to wonder what would transpire if Jones looked for his shot just a bit more often. It’s also interesting to note that Jones’ usage rates decreased from his sophomore to junior seasons (14.8%/12% of shots; 15%/13.1% possessions). Part of this is no doubt attributable to not having Pee Wee Gardner finding him; the other side of the story is that Brennan and staff essentially decided on who Jones is after two years and what role he serves best, and asked for similar things from the junior (in addition to helping along the freshmen).
On the other end of the court, Jones was clearly American’s best player all year. His 17.8% defensive rebounding rate was second only to Marko Vasic, and his 3.3% steal rate and 2.7% block rate were best on the team. During American’s enormous struggles through January, Jones was the glue keeping the Eagles from completely crumbling. At that time, he was also laying a foundation for a team that was defensively solid by the Patriot League tournament.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Uncharacteristically, Jones was a bit loose with the ball in 2015-16, his turnover rate increasing from 15.1 to 21.9 from the previous season. A summer of continuing to work on his handle, which I’m sure is happening, would be beneficial. Additionally, Jones’ 13.1% assist rate — sixth among the core eight — is not great. For someone who passed as much as he did, more of those dishes should have led to American field goals.
Jones shot only 37% on two-point jumpers. With one of the team’s best pump fakes, Jones would benefit from an improvement in the midrange game. A quicker release on his jumper would also lead to more open attempts.
Overall, Jones’ impact needs to be felt night in and night out. Jones battled some minor aches and pains as a junior that, in part, resulted in four games when he didn’t play double digits. American lost all four games.
“Yeah well he’s confident and he knows that I trust him. He knows that I know he’s doing all he can to win so whether it’s a right decision, wrong decision, good shot, bad shot, I know that he’s always thinking, ‘I gotta do what we need on this possession.’ And now that he’s, he’s a junior now so he’s had a lot of minutes under his belt, he’s getting more comfortable making some decisions like that down the stretch.” — Mike Brennan after Jones made several winning plays vs. Lafayette Feb. 17
By now, we know what Jones brings to the Eagles. Toughness, defense, rebounding, clutch shooting, and smarts. But can’t he do more? And will he be allowed to do more? That’s unlikely, as American loses 13.9 FGA a game in Reed and Vasic. Expect Delante Jones, James Washington, a much more active Lonnie Rivera, and freshman Sa’eed Nelson, possibly, to take those shots.
Jones will be better because he’s a dogged worker, and his minutes might increase slightly. He’ll often be on the court in late-game situations. And my guess is his leadership, both on the court and on the bench and in huddles, will be as important as his on-game contributions.