Tyrique Jones had a tantalizing freshman year. While he wasn’t consistent, he had the occasional monster game in which he dominated Creighton or, more memorably, Florida State. He played 11 minutes per game, shot 60% from the floor, and blocked 4.6% of opponent’s shots. It wasn’t exactly the stuff of legends, but it was clear that Jones had plenty of room to grow and the dog inside him to get it done.
Fast forward to last season. Jones played 15 minutes per game, shot 62% from the floor, and blocked 4.3% of opponent’s shots. If those numbers strike you as very similar, it’s because they are. Tyrique still played as if harboring some inner rage, but that didn’t translate to significantly better basketball. Tyrique’s offensive rating and defensive rebounding got better, but most of his increases in averages came from the very small tick up in minutes.
Best case scenario:
Kerem Kanter and Sean O’Mara are no longer here to take away time from Jones. Trevon Bluiett won’t be crowding out even more time by playing the four when the team goes small. (This is depressing). That means that Jones should have the opportunities to prove that he should be the focus of the team in the post. If he doesn’t foul out of every game, he should put up numbers. While his offensive game may lack nuance, his offensive rating of 119.4 last year was better than either Bluiett or JP Macura. Jones offensive rebounding rate dipped to a still respectable 12%, but his defensive rebounding rate was 22%. Jones can play, if he gets the chance, he could be a far less despicable version of constant double-double threat Angel Delgado.
Worst case scenario:
Jones does have competition again this year. Ryan Welage and Zach Hankins both figure to get minutes at the 4/5 spots. Naji Marshall and Dontarius James both could drop into the post if Steele decides to go small. In order to hold his spot, Tyrique is going to have to be effective and be on the floor. That means not racking up a team leading 5.4 fouls per 40 minutes again. If Tyrique keeps hacking or Steele decides to spread the floor and go small, the big man could be looking at another year of just picking his spots.
Most likely scenario:
The one that Hankins and Welage don’t bring to the table is Big East experience. (Hankins doesn’t even have D1 experience). Tyrique Jones has that and has shown that he is not going to back down from anyone. Travis Steele is going to have to let the big dog eat frequently, simply because he doesn’t have anyone else who has shown that they will. That means that some days Jones is going to be a four foul, 10 minutes mess of a human being, and some days he’s going to get 18/8/1 and look unstoppable. Either way, he’s going to be on the floor.