Day by day, Texas Longhorns guard Andrew Jones continues to progress towards a full return to the court.
Jones, who has spent much of the past year and a half away from the hardwood following a leukemia diagnosis in January 2018, has since won his battle with cancer and re-joined his Texas teammates for the 2018-19 season, though he appeared in just two games, scoring three points in 11 minutes before being sidelined for the rest of the season after Jones received further treatment over Christmas break.
All the while, Jones remained a supporting presence on the bench and has remained active on social media, providing positive updates regarding his physical progress. Many of these recent examples have come in the form of Jones showcasing the kind of athleticism that once had him regarded as a five-star All-American high school prospect, and on Wednesday, the Texas guard took to Instagram to flash the bounce he’s regained.
“Remember when I could barely walk, now I’m flying,” Jones wrote.
“Before the diagnosis, Jones was on track to become a key piece in Smart’s Texas tenure after averaging 11.4 points per game as a freshman and opting to return to school after exploring the pre-draft process,” BON’s Wescott Eberts wrote. “As a sophomore, Jones took the next step in the 10 games in which he appeared by increasing his scoring average thanks to major gains in efficiency, including a jump of nearly 10 percentage points in his shooting percentage and even greater gains behind the arc, skyrocketing from a 32.8 shooting percentage from distance to 46.3 percent.
Of course, the leukemia diagnosis cut Jones’ sophomore season short right as he appeared to blossoming into a sure-fire NBA prospect, and, as noted, Jones’ junior season never really amounted to much in terms of playing time. But as Bitterwhiteguy wrote recently at Barking Carnival, that was largely a decision designed to stretch Jones’ eligibility in Austin.
“I expect Andrew Jones to play next season, and play a lot. The only reason he didn’t play in the second half of the year was to preserve redshirt options going forward. Barring some sort of really severe medical U-turn, he’s ready to rock.”
Seemingly as close to complete health as he has been since his diagnosis, Jones will likely re-emerge as a key piece of Shaka Smart’s rotation in 2019-20. The Longhorns lost guard Kerwin Roach II to graduation and guard Elijah Mitrou-Long to a transfer, so playing time on the perimeter is there for the taking, and should Jones resemble anything close to the prospect he was pre-diagnosis, Smart and the Longhorns will essentially be incorporating a five-star-level talent into the rotation.