PHILADELPHIA — The members of the Class of 2016 put on a show after the tryouts for the USA’s U16 national team last month.
Remember this video?
I do. It’s a friendly reminder that kids half my age are already infinitely better basketball players than I could ever dream of being.
One name that didn’t show up in that video is Derrick Jones, an athletic 6-foot-6 lefty from Archbishop Carroll (PA). That’s because the No. 11 recruit in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals, didn’t make the U16 team. He was one of the final four players cut, but that hasn’t deterred some of the biggest programs in the country from offering Jones a scholarship.
In addition to the dozen or so offers that Jones has already, two of the nation’s blue bloods have taken interest. Kentucky and Kansas have both offered Jones, with Syracuse, Maryland, Kansas State, St. Joseph’s and Villanova being the other five schools that he rattled off at Reebok’s Breakout Classic in Philly.
“Those are the schools that have been texting my phone,” Jones told NBCSports.com.
Jones’ athleticism is what sets him apart right now. He’s got the kind of physical gifts that don’t come along too often, and perhaps his most valuable skill is that he plays hard; he defends, he attacks the glass, he goes to the rim instead of settling for jumpshots.
As important as that is, for Jones to take the next step, he needs to become more of a basketball player than simply being an athletic freak.
“I want to improve on my ball-handling and my jump shot,” Jones said. “I want to put on like 15 pounds.”
The good news for Jones?
He’s going to be a junior in high school in the fall. He’s got plenty of time to improve the rest of his game.
Put in the work in the gym, and he’ll go a long way.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.