What is upside for hot-shooting C.J. Jones and Arkansas basketball team?
SEC Country reporter Eric W. Bolin will candidly answer your Arkansas Razorbacks sports queries each weekday in our Mailbag Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @SECCountryHogs or by email to Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A short break from Arkansas football this week. The Razorbacks aren’t in a bowl game so there is no onfield stuff to cover. With the bulk of the new coaching staff out recruiting, there’s no opportunity for get-to-know-you pieces on them, either. It’s recruiting, recruiting, recruiting … and basketball.
Can you believe there are still people who aren’t onboard the Arkansas basketball train?
The Razorbacks are 7-2 and recently picked up a win over 14th-ranked Minneosta. They also have victories over Oklahoma, a likely NCAA Tournament team, and Fresno State, a team on the bubble. Bucknell, too, may make the Dance as champion of the Patriot League.
C.J. Jones, the sophomore guard mentioned by Carter, has been absolutely instrumental in Arkansas’ early-season fortunes. To some he is a surprise. If you’re a close reader of SEC Country Arkansas, however, he should not be. Jones was called the most likely to be a breakout player this season for the Razorbacks.
He is a shooter, first and foremost. His .455 3-point percentage is a testament to that. Although it’s not likely to stay that high, the fact that it’s almost 50 percent and Jones is tied for the team lead with 20 made 3s is impressive. He isn’t a player who simply is getting lucky. Jones is best when he’s a volume shooter.
That’s far from the only effective part of his game, though. In fact, I want to see more. As Jones gets more physically comfortable both this season and in the coming seasons, he should take more advantage of his athleticism. He doesn’t have to be Jaylen Barford the way he gets to the rim and uses his body, but at 6-foot-5 and 180 pounds he can be silky in doing so. When he bulks up, if the shooting stays, Jones can be one of the best players Arkansas has seen in awhile.
That’s his upside and he’s only beginning to tap into it. With Barford and Daryl Macon established as all-conference players, with Anton Beard turning into a full-time threat, and with Daniel Gafford an early favorite for SEC Freshman of the Year, Jones’ development is a blessing. He turns Arkansas into a full-on power when he’s playing well.