With senior Darian Thibodeaux in the locker room nursing an eye injury, head coach James Dickey turned to the bench, grabbed point guard Jimmie Jones and pushed him towards the check-in table without hesitation.
It’s an old basketball cliché that bench players are an ankle sprain, or in Jones’s case, a corneal abrasion, away from getting their chance to play big minutes. For Jones, that call came Saturday night against ECU at Hofheinz Pavillion.
The sophomore logged a season-high 21 minutes, grabbing three steals, four assists and a pair of layups in a game the Cougars could not go without.
In the midst of a dwindling lead, and a meltdown of double-digit proportions, Jones provided energy on both ends of the floor as UH appeared down and out.
“He works so hard everyday in practice, and he gave us a great spark tonight. Then Tip (Thibodeaux) gets his eye scratched, and we were going to play Jimmie anyway, but we have confidence in putting him,” Dickey said.
“He’s such a cerebral player, and he understands the game.”
Out of Plano, TX, the sophomore was a walk-on addition to the team after spending a year at Navarro Junior College in Waxahachie. In limited minutes, Jones has brought energy to the second team when starting point guard J.J. Thompson sits.
In seven games, Jones has averaged a meager 6.7 minutes a game, but Dickey has assured the new Cougar that his time will come.
“My first time in…I remember I had two turnovers back to back, and he (Dickey) just told me ‘you know how to play the game. Stay humble, be positive,’” Jones said.
“So I’ve just went out and played my game, and he’s had so much confidence in me.”
In molding his game off of the up-tempo style of Thompson, Jones hopes to continue his efficient play, while managing the adjustment process of his first Division I basketball season.
“It’s been a big jump. It’s a lot faster; the pace is a lot faster. As you play, you just have to adjust. That’s all there is.”