Though the Lady Rattlers closed the season with a 12-17 record, their high profile freshman Deidra “D.J.” Jones gives them anticipation for promising years to come. The 5-foot-10 freshman guard is a prototypical slasher who can score in a variety of ways.
Jones averaged 12.4 points per game. She finished 12th in overall scoring in the MEAC and won the conference’s rookie-of-the week award twice this season.
Jones, a graduate from McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Ga., had a smooth transition from high school to college. She credits much of her success at the college level to her coaches.
“The coaches helped a lot,” said the 18-year-old pharmacy student. “The speed and the tempo of the game is a lot higher. I just try to work hard and get after it in practice. The strongest part of my game right now is my ability to score, and I try to make everyone else on the court better.”
Coach Debra Clark expects Jones to continue to strive for more while at Florida A&M University.
“I really encourage her always to challenge herself,” said Debra Clark, head coach. “I want her to be her best, not just regular standards.”
Clark said Jones’ best is a lot better than everyone else’s best.
“She has a great understanding of the game. Getting to the basket and creating shots for herself and for her teammates is a big plus,” Clark said. “She’s made a great transition. Once she gets her turnovers down, she’ll be a complete player. But we’re very pleased with her thus far.”
Jones has modeled some of her game after her teammate and long-time friend, sophomore guard Joslyne Jackson, 20.
Jackson, a sophomore health science student from Marietta, Ga., has been playing with Jones since the sixth grade.
“She’s matured from high school to college,” Jackson said. “But she’s always been soft spoken and shown more of her actions on the court than off the court. She’s a good teammate.”
Off the court, Jackson says that they have a good relationship. They enjoy visiting each other and going to the movies.
“I feel that she’s going through a big transition, and I could do better to help her out,” Jackson said. “I haven’t really taken that role, but I’m going to do better.”
Not only has Jones pleased coaches and teammates, but she’s pleased her family as well.
While having much success on the court, her mom, Cynthia Jones, said she’s an awesome daughter.
“She’s never given us any trouble,” Cynthia Jones said. “We live our lives through Deidra and we expect her to do her best. She’s always been a leader in high school, but she’s really grown this last year and there’s a lot more to come and see.”
Jones does not only expect her daughter to shine on the court, but also in the classroom.
“Deidra is here for a purpose, and I really want her to get a good education and excel in school,” said Cynthia Jones. “Basketball is secondary in my opinion. She has a bright future ahead of her and I just want to see her take advantage of her educational opportunity that she has here.”
Being a freshman and a leader on the team has not been a difficult task for Jones, who received a lot of help from her teammates.
But there is one aspect of her game that she feels needs improvement.
“The weakest part of my game is defense. I need to work on that,” Jones said. She plans to win a MEAC championship before she graduates and to continue to develop all aspects of her game.
Until then, with three years left to play until she’s ineligible, Jones is going to continue to strike everything in sight with a silent but deadly attitude.
Contact Brent Hatchett at email@example.com