Shaka Smart’s 2019 recruiting class is no longer a one-man band.
On Monday evening, just weeks removed from trimming his choices to three finalists in late September, Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy center Kai Jones brought his recruitment to a close and committed to the Texas Longhorns, siding with Smart’s program over the Baylor Bears and Florida State Seminoles.
A native of the Bahamas, Jones will cap his high school career at Brewster Academy following a stint at Orlando (Fla.) Christian Prep, where he began to develop as part of a team state title-winning team that featured an abundance of Division I talent in small forward Nassir Little, who’s now at North Carolina, Buffalo freshman point guard Ronaldo Segu, and four-star power forward C.J. Walker, who also holds a Texas offer.
Between the late growth spurt, which saw Jones arrive in America at 6’8 following a three-inch growth spurt before adding another two inches to his current height of 6’10, and being surrounded by prominent prospects, it took Jones some time to come into his own as a prospect, but when he did, the rise was nearly overnight.
During last spring’s AAU circuit while with Team Breakdown, Jones was hardly on recruiting radars by the time April came to a close, and just weeks later, Jones held nearly 20 offers by the by the end of June.
“Kai Jones upside is scary,” Jones’ former AAU coach Kenny Gillion told Prep Hoops in June. “He just turned 17 years old in January. His motor, versatility and coordination for a 6’10 forward are off the charts and he is just getting started.”
When the time came for Jones to cut his list last month, Syracuse, Arizona, Georgetown, Iowa State, Kansas, Providence, and Miami were among the many who were excluded from his final three.
Of course, Smart and his staff were able to do enough for Texas to separate itself from the pack throughout the past three weeks, and in doing so, the Horns second their commitment this cycle, as Jones now joins four-star Missouri City Elkins shooting guard Donovan Williams.
Although he’s listed as a four-star center, Texas is recruiting Jones as more of a versatile power forward prospect, and he’s working to adapt his game accordingly. At 6’10 with impressive length and a dominant presence on the glass and as a shot-blocker, Jones still boasts the speed to excel as a high-flyer in transition and utilize his quickness to beat defenders around the paint. In hopes of continuing to bolster his skill set so that his potential will soon become well-rounded productivity, Jones is working to expand his game and further develop a mid-range jumper, ball-handling ability, and the capability to help facilitate.
Kai Jones (@242_jones ) already has offers from many of the top D-1 programs in the country, but headed into this season at @BrewsterHoops expect even more teams to come calling. The decision is on the way... #KaiJones #BahamasBasketball #BoutToMakeIt10 pic.twitter.com/z7CBsbQnUe— 10th Year Seniors (@10thyrSeniors) August 8, 2018
“I’m working on all aspects of my game, especially my jump shot and strength. I work on my shooting every day and I’m working towards being a great shooter,” Jones told Prep Hoops. “I also what to improve my basketball IQ that comes from watching more film and playing more games considering that I’ve only been playing organized ball for two years.”
With Jones now committed, Texas is currently set with its 13 available scholarships, barring any unforeseen attrition and any early NBA departures, but the staff felt comfortable enough with Jones’ high upside to consider him a take in the 2019 class.
At 6’10, 205 pounds, Jones is currently ranked as the No. 53 player nationally, the No. 13 center, and the No. 3 player in New Hampshire, per to the 247Sports Composite rankings.