- Mike Grimala, ESPNHS
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This summer, ESPNHS will sit down with some of the nation's elite players to break down their game, talk about the inevitable comparisons to college and pro players and get their take on who they pattern their game after.
Who is Matt Jones?
Rated the No. 9 shooting guard in the Class of 2013, Jones is a stone-cold assassin. His 3-point shot is already developed at an NCAA level, and he's capable of exploding at any moment. As a junior, he led DeSoto to the regional finals of the Class 5A state tournament, averaging 18.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. Jones has been just as good during the summer season. Going against some of the most talented AAU teams in the country during Nike Elite Youth Basketball League play, Jones is averaging 17.7 points per game and hitting 48 percent of his 3-point attempts. Jones has committed to Duke, and he seems destined to continue the Blue Devils' tradition of lights-out shooting guards (Trajan Langdon, J.J. Redick, Jon Scheyer, Austin Rivers).
According to ESPN RecruitingNation, Jones has the prototypical build for a shooting guard. He's athletic enough to make plays in the open floor and around the rim, but his calling card is his sweet jumper. Jones might be the purest shooter in the country, with consistent catch-and-shoot range out to 20 feet.
"He's an extremely respected shooter," says Scott Pospichal, his AAU coach with the Texas Titans. "Teams know not to leave him. We run him off screens, and he's good at the pull-up, too. He can really shoot the ball."
ESPNHS Comparison: Gordon Hayward
Jones' range and size make observers think of classic snipers like Ray Allen and J.J. Redick, but we see his game resembling that of up-and-coming Utah Jazz star Gordon Hayward. There is a size difference, as Hayward is one of the NBA's taller shooting guards at 6-foot-8, but everything else lines up. While Allen and Redick rely on deft footwork to curl around screens and pop long jumpers, Jones (like Hayward) is more of a spot-up shooter with less elevation on his release.
Jones also has enough length, athleticism and quickness to occasionally jump into passing lanes and disrupt things defensively. Gordon makes a living by deflecting passes, sneaking in for offensive putbacks and drilling 3-pointers (38.6 percent for his career), and we can see Jones evolving into the same type of player.
"I like to do a little bit of everything," says Jones. "I take pride in my defense. I can shoot off the dribble, and I have a quick first step. I try to contribute any way I can."
Matt’s Comparison: Ray Allen
Jones has been hearing the Ray Allen comparisons for a long time, and he takes it as a compliment.
"A lot of people like to compare me to Ray Allen or J.J. Redick," he says. "I just feel blessed and grateful to be compared to great shooters like that. Ray Allen is one of the greatest of all-time, so that's an honor to be mentioned with him."
Jones says he is trying to get stronger over the summer, and he's also working on his ball handling. Allen was an underrated slasher in his prime, so Jones will need to continue tightening his handle if he wants to be the next "Jesus Shuttlesworth."
Mike Grimala covers high school sports for ESPNHS. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@MGrimalaESPN).
1060dMike Grimala and David Auguste