Fast-growing Jonquel Jones combines size, athleticism, relentless work ethic

Lady Tigers' coach Itoro Coleman:' I've never had a 6-4 guard, or a 6-4 wing - ever'

Women's basketball freshman Jonquel Jones

Photo by Mark Crammer

Women's basketball freshman Jonquel Jones

Jonquel Jones took a chance, grew five inches in two years, and emerged as one of the nation's most intriguing recruiting prospects.

Clemson followed her every step of the way; and so when the Lady Tigers' season begins next month, coach Itoro Coleman will have among her weaponry a true 6-foot-4 wing guard, who also so happens to be early-rising workaholic.

She begins her Clemson career as a member of the ACC's 'freshmen to watch' list.

"Jonquel is originally from the Bahamas, and she played her freshman and sophomore high school basketball there," said Coleman of Clemson's national top-30 freshman. "She came to the states, to Riverdale Baptist (in Maryland), and she was, at that point, under the radar.

"Not many people knew about her. But Coach Yo (Yolett McPhee-MCuin) our recruiting coordinator, is from the Bahamas, and so she did. So we kept up with her progress."

What Coleman and 'Coach Yo' discovered was a rare talent with an almost unheard-of work ethic, who, during the midst of a rapid growth spurt, honed her game and took giant steps toward becoming a special player.

"Jonquel was about 5-11 when she came over from the Bahamas," Coleman said. "But then last summer, she had a huge growth spurt, and went from 6-2 to being 6-4...

"I've never had a 6-4 guard, or a 6-4 wing - ever."

Height, agility and athleticism are just part of what makes Jones special, Coleman said.

"This kid's work ethic is impeccable," she said. "She works so hard on her game. She has the same kind of drive that (sophomore guard) Nikki Dixon has. She wants to be the best.

"It hasn't been easy for her, but she's a kid who'll get up at five o'clock in the morning and go to the gym and get up 500 or 700 shots before classes start. This was something she was doing in high school."

Coleman said she sees Jones as a three-position player.

"She can play the 'two' through the 'four' positions, and we'll use her that way," Coleman said. "Jonquel is so long that she creates so many mismatches. She can shoot the jumper or the pull-up, and she gets in there and rebounds. She just has a very good all-around game.

"Jonquel is going to be a very special player by the time she graduates from Clemson."

Coleman said that Jones is one of several newcomers who she expects to make a big impact for the Lady Tigers:

Aisha Turner: "She's a pass-first, shoot-second kind of point guard. She's very quick and she has great vision on the court, and she can knock down shots. She's a streaky shooter right now, but with more reps her shot will get more consistent.

"She's a very fun player to watch in the open court. She's player who'll make a pass and the crowd will say 'whoa, how did she see that?' She's got that kind of vision."

Danaejah Grant: "She's a very strong player who can shoot the mid-range. She's a natural rebounder and can jump extremely high. She's right in there rebounding with the post players."

Nylia Jamison-Myers: "She's about 6-4, with a wingspan of about 6-7. She's so long and so athletic. Her defense right now is ahead of her offense. She does things right now like rebounding and blocking shots. She's a real defensive presence in the middle."

Charmaine Tay: "Charmaine will be eligible in January. She's a taller point guard, with great vision like Aisha. But because she's so tall, she can get in there and bang and mix it up. I see her playing both the 'one' and the 'two' positions for us."

Aneesah Daniels: "She an undersized post player, at 5-10 or 5-11, but she plays like she's 6-3. She rebounds and has a great first step. She's a face-up post player, but she can also play back-to-the-basket. She's a real nice player who I can't look at right now because her eligibility won't start until next year. But she's been making quite an impression in practice."

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