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Freeport News picks Jones as 2017’s Athlete of Year

Jonquel Jones stands out from the rest.

Accordingly, The Freeport News, Grand Bahama’s only, and the country’s third daily newspaper, has selected her the 2017 “Athlete of the Year.”

Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Steven Gardiner won silver medals at this year’s International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World championships. Swimmer Joanna Evans, Jones’ fellow Grand Bahamian, was an excellent performer in the pool for the University of Texas. Buddy Hield concluded a solid rookie year in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and is holding his own in his second year. Leslie St. Fleur continued his sensational play as The Bahamas’ best footballer (soccer).

Those Bahamian athletes excelled and enhanced the Bahamas
Sports Brand in 2017.

None in my view, or that of the other Freeport News panelists (Night Editor Barbara Walkin and Sports Reporter Shayne Stubbs), matched the Holmes Rock, West Grand Bahama native. To say that she was just, outstanding would be an understatement.

What in fact, Jones has been having over the last year has been a run that in basketball, one has to compare with the late great Wilt Chamberlain. Basketball followers in particular, historians, know that nobody before, or living today ever put together consistently superb statistics (especially points and rebounds) like Chamberlain.
I’ll list some male and female luminaries to make my point: Elgin Baylor, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Bill Russell, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kareem Abdul Jabar, Larry Bird, Moses Malone, Nate Thurmond, Lisa Leslie, Tina Thompson, Sheryl Swoopes, Candace Parker, Sylvia Fowles, Maya Moore, Sue Bird, Nneka Ogwumike and Cynthia Cooper.

There might be those who wish to name some others, male and female. I venture though, that none, no matter who is added to the aforementioned list, have put up numbers like Jones is now doing, at any point in their careers. Indeed, she is now in that rarified space, the domain of Chamberlain, who had hundreds of games with 30 plus points and 15-upwards, rebounds.

That’s where Jones is today. I don’t for one moment compare her directly with the “Big Dipper” because he had 40-plus points and 30-rebound games, 50-plus points and 40-rebound contests.

So, he is out there alone as the most prolific offensive statistical player ever. However, our sensation of the basketball court is within talking distance. She is in the conversation for sure when the discussion turns to the great points/rebound games.

She has proven to be the best rebounder in the Women’s Korean Basketball League (WKBL); the WNBA; and now, the Women’s China Basketball Association (WCBA). Over the last year and a half, no female player in the world has been better.

Let’s just recognize what she has been doing in the WCBA, after capturing the top awards and leading the Woori Bank Wibee to the WKBL championship; and following her record-rebound season as the catalyst for the Connecticut Sun’s excellent season and run to the playoff round in the WNBA.

On Wednesday, December 27, Jones led the Shanix Xing Rui (Shanix XR) to a 97-79 victory for a 13-5 record so far this season. Jones had 25 points from (9-11) shooting in the two-point area, one three –pointer and 4-6 from the free throw line. She hauled in 15 rebounds, had three blocks, and three steals.

In the seven games before, she had 31 points, 13 rebounds; 32 points, 22 rebounds; 33 points, 18 rebounds; 45 points, 13 rebounds; 37 points, 22 rebounds; 42 points, 20 rebounds and 32 points, 20 rebounds.

That’s an incredible stretch of exceptional basketball performances.

Her numbers, in my view, definitely justify her selection as The Freeport News “Athlete of The Year” for 2017. In this special year-end Sports Scope column, it is fitting to showcase a young lady who is on the way, barring some career-hampering injury to being the greatest Bahamian basketball player of all time.
Happy New Year Jonquel!

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at [email protected] or on WhatsApp at 727-6363.

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Happy New Year!