Josh Jones has a silky left-handed shooting stroke and admirable athletic ability.
The Creighton junior-to-be also has the gift of gab.
None of his words these days, however, include excuses for his miserable start to last season.
Six months ago, Jones' basketball world was crumbling. In Creighton's 12 nonconference games, Jones was a horrific 0 for 16 from 3-point range. His spot in the starting lineup was snatched. Playing time all but evaporated.
“I blame myself for the beginning of last season,” Jones said on Thursday night. “I have the right coach who is going to give me all the opportunity in the world. It's just a matter of me controlling my own destiny now.”
And Jones has been doing that all summer, his Metro Basketball League game at the Omaha Sports Academy included.
Jones' jumper was off a tad and his Narmi Group team fell 84-69 to the EQ School of Hair Design, but Jones still used his slick slashing ability to finish with 15 points.
The former Omaha Central star said he's been working his tail off to not let a repeat of last season's disappointments occur.
Teammate Grant Gibbs has noticed during summer pickup games.
“He's doing really well,” Gibbs said. “He's been working really hard. I think his IQ and knowing his role has improved so much.”
Jones said his role this season will be to give the Bluejays shooting and a defensive stopper on the wing.
Oh, and being a leader, too.
He did some of that on Thursday, giving instructions to his team for much of the night.
“Go to work, go to work,” he shouted when a teammate got an offensive rebound in the paint.
Ask Gibbs and he'll tell you that the personable Jones might just be a natural when it comes to being a guy teammates can turn to.
“Sometimes he's just talking to talk, but I think the coaches have gotten across to him to talk purposefully,” Gibbs said.
“People gravitate to him just because of his personality. The young guys listen to him — he's played in a lot of big games.”
Jones helped Creighton play in a few last season. After his woeful start, he rallied to shoot 46 percent from 3-point range in Missouri Valley Conference games. In the Bluejays' run to the College Basketball Invitational championship series, Jones averaged just over nine points per contest off the bench, including a career-high 21 against Davidson.
He'll need to carry that over when practice starts this season. Earning playing time on the perimeter will surely be a struggle with Jahenns Manigat returning and Gibbs and several talented newcomers entering the mix.
Bring it on, Jones said.
After what he went through last year, there isn't a challenge on the court that Jones believes he can't overcome.
“It doesn't scare me at all,” Jones said, “because I know what I have to do.”
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