Jalen Jones, UNO’s latest men’s basketball commitment, can do a little bit of everything.
“He’s a pretty special kid,” said Nick Lawrence, Jones’ coach at Clinton (Iowa) High School. “He’s very versatile. He can handle the ball, shoot it, has a nice post game. He has a slender build, but he’s very athletic, handles the ball well and he’s smart — he knows how to get others involved. He has the size, length and athleticism to play and defend multiple positions on the court.”
Jones, a shade under 6-foot-6 and about 185 to 190 pounds, joined the Clinton varsity as a freshman, was second-team all-conference as a sophomore and second-team all-state as a junior, when he averaged 19.0 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He played point guard out of necessity last year for a team that has gradually improved — from 0 wins, to 1-21, to 7-15 while competing in Iowa’s largest class.
Lawrence said Iowa has been tracking Jones’ progress and that UNO was among eight to 10 schools showing the strongest interest.
“Once Jalen was able to get on campus in Omaha, sit down and look at the nuts and bolts of the situation, it was a no-brainer for him,” Lawrence said. “He was impressed with the coaching staff and the direction of where the program is going, and what the school had to offer.”
Jones is expected to sign his letter of intent Wednesday, joining a recruiting class that also includes Kansas City-area point guard Devin Newsome.
UNO has a four-player senior class, leaving two other scholarships available for next season.
At UNO, Jones will reunite with forward Rylan Murry of West Branch, Iowa, an AAU teammate.
“For Omaha to land a player like Jalen, I think the payoff could be huge,” Lawrence said. “I think a lot of teams, for whatever reason, underestimated the type of player he can become. I think he has a chance to become a real high-level kid.”