October 9, 2010

'College-ready' combo guard gives UNT his commit

One of his teammates recently committed to Texas Tech, but his high school coach describes Chris Jones as "the most college-ready kid on our team last year."

If that's the case, then North Texas picked up a nice addition for its 2011 men's basketball recruiting class when Jones committed to UNT on Saturday. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound combo guard helped lead Garland (Texas) Lakeview Centennial to last year's Class 5A state-title game and a 33-4 record.

"I was going to wait until the spring [to sign], but I don't want to wait until late and have my scholarship end up going to someone else," said Jones, who still needs an SAT or ACT qualifying score to sign in November. "I think [UNT] would have waited, but not everybody's patient. I don't want them to find someone else and hand it to them."

Jones took the advice of Centennial Lakeview head coach Tony Mauldin, assistant coach J.T. Locklear and AAU coach John Lawrence to commit now. Lakeview teammate Toddrick Gotcher, who had an offer from UNT, committed to Tech a few weeks ago after a visit there.

"He said he likes the coaches there, and [UNT] was one of his top schools," Mauldin said late last month. "He's by far one of the best point guards in the state and has performed at a high level, even with the [injured] hand. Probably last year he was our best player."

Jones had an operation after last season to repair a broken scaphoid (wrist) bone, an injury he played with most of the season after taking a charge in January. He played on with his hand taped despite experiencing pain that trainers believed was the result of a sprain. He had a soft cast removed last month and has been cleared for full activities.

At the state tournament, Jones had 21 points, four assists, three blocks and seven steals in a semifinals win against San Antonio Wagner. He had 19 points and three steals in Lakeview's 65-58 title-game loss to Fort Bend Bush. For the season, Jones averaged 13.1 points, 5.6 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 4.2 steals per game. In his last 11 games, he averaged 18.8 points.

Jones and Gotcher were teammates for LBA Seawolves. Gotcher was academically qualified much earlier and received more buzz and exposure, Mauldlin said, but "a lot of college coaches saw Todd and then were really impressed with Chris. The things he does, he's ready to do at the next level."

Jones said he had offers from UNT, TCU, New Mexico State and Arkansas-Little Rock. His Rivals.com profile also lists offers from several more schools, among them SMU, Colorado, Houston, Texas-Arlington and New Mexico.

Jones said UNT's coaching staff reminded him most of Lakeview's. "With coach Mauldin, we have good times, but when it's time for business, he means business. Coach [Johnny] Jones seems like he'd be like that. Coach Locklear and coach Forrest are a lot alike, too."

Jones joins three other UNT commits for 2011, Dallas Kimball small forward Jordan Williams, South Grand Prairie point guard Trey Norris and Casper (Wyo.) College combo guard Brandan Walton. Jones said he'd like to study engineering or architecture.

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