With expanded game, Jones soars to new heights
By GREGORY BROOME | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 2, 2014
Patch boys basketball star Brendan Jones earned a reputation as DODDS-Europe’s most dangerous outside shooter as a junior in 2012-13. He also earned first-team All-Europe honors and led the Panthers to a Division I European championship.
But that wasn’t good enough for Jones. Put more simply, Jones wasn’t good enough yet.
“I was kind of one-dimensional,” Jones said.
So even as he celebrated a championship and collected well-deserved individual accolades, Jones sought to improve. And when his senior year arrived, his DODDS-Europe competition learned how much better he was.
Where before Jones would roam the perimeter in search of a three-point look, the new Jones was more dangerous. He could still launch from deep, but defenders who overplayed that threat were quickly left behind by a sudden drive to the basket. He was still aggressive in seeking his own shot, but he placed a renewed emphasis on finding open teammates.
“I wanted to add more penetration,” Jones said. “This year I kind of balanced it out, moved the ball more and created plays.
“It’s a lot easier when the defense has to play you honestly. You can kind of do what you want.”
That’s largely what Jones did as a senior – anything he wanted. He averaged 19 points per game along with five rebounds, four assists and three steals. He led the Panthers to a stirring comeback victory over homestanding Wiesbaden to win the school’s second consecutive Division I European championship. He was named the most valuable player of that tournament, as well as the Stuttgart Winter Basketball Tournament that the Panthers won in December. He’s a lock for another first-team All-Europe berth.
And Jones is the 2013-14 Stars and Stripes boys basketball Athlete of the Year.
Though his high school career has come to an ideal conclusion, the success Jones and the Panthers enjoyed this season didn’t come easily. Patch lost several key members of last year’s title-winning team, most notably All-Europe second-teamer and team leader Kris German. The team was younger and less-experienced overall and therefore even more reliant on the efforts of seniors Jones and John Robinson, the All-Europe first-team colleague with whom he formed DODDS-Europe’s best perimeter duo. Meanwhile, improved teams like Wiesbaden, Kaiserslautern and Vilseck were poised to make earning a second title more difficult than the first.
“We had to step up and really jell,” Jones said. “We all felt we had to do so if we were going to win again.”
Jones and Robinson began that effort in the offseason soon after winning their first European championship. As juniors, Jones and Robinson occupied clearly-defined roles. Jones was the sharpshooter, Robinson the slashing athlete. But to maintain their championship level of playing, the two borrowed elements of each other’s games; Robinson fine-tuned his outside shot, while Jones increased the quantity and quality of his trips into the paint.
“We’ve been working on everything else other than what we usually do,” Jones said. “Teams pick up on your weakness. If you don’t have any weaknesses, you can’t go wrong.”
With his high-school body of work complete, Jones is looking forward to playing collegiate basketball. He said he’s working with a recruiting service and has already garnered some interest at the Division II level. But he’s far from a finished product. In fact, he’s ready to launch another offseason self-improvement campaign.
“I don’t have the size yet, or the strength,” Jones said. “Which is what I’ll be working on in the offseason.”
Patch's Brendan Jones shoots the go-ahead free throw as Wiesbaden's CJ Pridgen, left, and Kelsey Thomas watch in the Division I title game at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. Jones has been named boys basketball Stars and Stripes Athlete of the Year.
Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes