It was a year of learning for Bahamian collegiate men’s basketball player with the University of Texas Longhorns, Kai Jones. Despite the setback from COVID-19, the Bahamian center said he is ready to get his sophomore campaign underway.
Jones and the Longhorns finished the 2019-2020 season with a 19-12 win/loss record, 9-9 in Big 12 Conference play. Jones ended the season averaging 3.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks, while averaging 16.7 minutes per game.
“I want to be the best version of myself on and off the court and to impact winning on both ends of the floor. I want to be efficient and consistent with my high-level performance. I feel like if I do that every day, there is no question that I will be able to play,” Jones said.
Going forward, the big man has a lot of expectation. He was recently named to Sports Illustrated’s Top 30 2021 NBA Draft Big Board.
“[NBA] (National Basketball Association) teams are well aware of what he brings to the table, athletically. He showed signs of figuring things out toward the end of this season,” an article in Sports Illustrated stated.
The 19-year-old said he noticed the recognition but just wants to go out and get better every game.
“It’s cool to get the recognition but my goals are big and that is something that I expect for myself because I expect to be better every time I step on the floor. It’s cool that they have me ranked there but my goal is to win every single game and that we could go out there with a mindset of just dominating,” Jones said.
The Bahamian said that he learned a lot about himself last season.
“It was a great season,” Jones said. “I learned a lot about myself on and off the court. I had a lot of growth mentally and physically. I just got better and better every day. Earlier in the season, I wasn’t playing much but I just worked my way into the rotation more and more and gained the trust of my coaches and the coaching staff. The entire coaching staff and my teammates, they started to trust me more. That’s something I am looking to build on more and more going into next year.”
The former junior national team player had a lot of highlights with some high flying dunks and aggressive plays whenever his name was called last season. He said the biggest lessons he learned from last season were being in the moment constantly, trusting the process and just grow in the game constantly.
In the second-to-last game before the season got canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, Jones erupted for 20 points, seven rebounds, two steals, one assist and one block against Oklahoma State University. That was his best statistical game of the season. He played 32 minutes and shot a blistering 66 percent from the field.
He said he was aggressive in that game and looks forward to asserting himself more in the upcoming season.
“It was definitely me being aggressive and me being a type of player that asserts myself; I will definitely be doing more of that next year. I am looking to assert myself on the offensive and defensive end of the floor and be a more impactful player,” he said.
In the classroom, Jones said that he has been doing well, having to juggle that and basketball. He said he enjoys the challenge.
Since the season shut down, Jones has been working out and keeping in shape. The season ahead is a key one for him, as he looks to stand out in the collegiate ranks.