Creighton transfer Antwann Jones had always assumed he’d be starting his NBA career right about now.
For good reason.
He was at one time ranked as ESPN’s top shooting guard in the 2018 recruiting class. He held his own on the court with the sport’s biggest stars at high-profile AAU events. He starred for his high school team, which won a state title in Florida and ended up No. 9 in USA Today’s national rankings.
Then came last year, a collegiate debut that he figured would springboard him to the pros.
He played just 17 minutes a game at Memphis.
“College really humbled me,” Jones said. “But I feel like every experience in basketball I’ve had so far has taught me to work harder. I just want to be the best I can be. I want to give it all I’ve got.”
That’s why he’s at Creighton now.
Jones is a bullish 6-foot-6 wing who’s comfortable initiating the offense on the perimeter or bodying up with the bigs on the interior. He stuffed the stat sheet during CU’s three exhibition games in Australia — leading the team in rebounds and steals, and ranking second in assists.
But everyone has deficiencies. Perhaps they weren’t as apparent to Jones two or three years ago.
He can recognize them now. A jump shot that’s improved but not yet been perfected. On-court decision-making that sometimes results in a rebuke from the coaches. There’s a maturation process he says he’s still working through.
“I’m just focused on getting better, working hard, getting as polished as possible on and off the court,” Jones said. “Creighton’s got a good culture, so I’m just trying to adapt to it. Just getting better every day with these guys and helping them get ready for the season.”
He’ll have to sit out a year because of NCAA transfer rules — but even that often maligned eligibility requirement is something Jones is ready to embrace. He can cocoon his way into CU’s developmental incubator and then reemerge as an upgraded version of himself.
But he has to stay committed to that goal.
Jones’ high school coach certainly thinks he has the potential to do just that. Steve Reece coached Jones for four years, including his senior season at Oak Ridge High School in Orlando.
There’s a reason Jones surged to the top of the recruiting charts, according to Reece. He knows how to push himself, Reece said.
“He’s always had a great work ethic. Always wanted to be the best,” Reece said. “And I’ve seen him mature so much as a young man.”
Jones intends to continue that growth now. He’ll spend the season practicing on Creighton’s scout team, but he’ll be dreaming big — especially in those moments of downtime when he turns on an NBA game and sees a rookie making an impact.
“That’s my class. There’s a lot of dudes in the NBA that I played against,” Jones said. “For them to be in the NBA — and I at one point was ranked high — just seeing those dudes get to reach their dreams and I’m here in college. I want to reach my goals as well. I’m motivated.”
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After growing up in Cascade, Iowa, Greg McDermott went on to play at Northern Iowa from 1984-88, earning second-team all-conference honors as a junior.
After serving as an assistant at North Dakota, Greg McDermott got his first head coaching job at Wayne State in 1994. He won 116 games there in six years and led the Wildcats to four straight 20-win seasons.
Greg McDermott took over at his alma mater, Northern Iowa, in April 2001. He made three consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament from 2004-06.
Greg McDermott was introduced as Iowa State's new coach in March 2006, but he struggled to find success in Ames. He left after four seasons with a losing overall record, no NCAA tournament appearances and no better than a seventh-place finish in the Big 12.
Greg McDermott was tabbed in April 2010 to replace Dana Altman as Creighton's next men's basketball coach.
Greg McDermott inherited a Creighton roster in his first season that included experienced veterans like Kenny Lawson and Antoine Young, as well as a mix of talented young players like Grant Gibbs, Gregory Echenique and his son, Doug McDermott.
Greg McDermott led Creighton to a 23-16 overall record in his first season. The Bluejays played in the College Basketball Invitational and lost in the championship series to Oregon and former Bluejay coach Dana Altman.
In 2012, Greg McDermott won his first Missouri Valley tournament title with Creighton, defeating Illinois State by four in the championship game.
The 2011-12 season also featured Creighton's first NCAA tournament victory in a decade. The No. 8-seeded Bluejays defeated Alabama in the first round before falling to North Carolina.
Creighton and Greg McDermott made it back-to-back conference tournament titles in 2013. The Bluejays also won the regular-season championship that season.
Greg McDermott led Creighton back to the NCAA tournament in 2013, this time as a No. 7 seed, and defeated Cincinnati in the opener before getting eliminated by Duke in the second round.
Greg McDermott helped steer Creighton into the Big East, and he made his coaching debut in the conference on Dec. 31, 2013 with a 67-49 victory over Marquette.
Greg McDermott had the opportunity to coach his son, Doug McDermott, for four seasons at Creighton. Doug was a three-time All-American under his father and won the national player of the year award in 2014.
Creighton's third consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament ended with another second-round loss. After defeating Louisiana-Lafayette in the opener, CU fell by 30 to Baylor, again falling short of the Sweet 16.
Creighton's first season in the post-Doug McDermott era was a struggle, as the Bluejays limped to a 14-19 overall record — 4-14 in the Big East — under Greg McDermott in 2014-15.
Creighton saw improvement under Greg McDermott in 2015-16, finishing sixth in the Big East with a 9-9 record. The Bluejays made it to the NIT that season, losing to BYU in the quarterfinals.
Greg McDermott led Creighton to its best start in program history during the 2016-17 season. The Bluejays won their first 13 games and were ranked as high as No. 7 nationally before struggling down the stretch.
The late-season struggles continued for Greg McDermott and Creighton into the NCAA tournament. The No. 6-seeded Bluejays fell to Rhode Island in the first round, ending their once-promising season.
Greg McDermott was targeted by Ohio State for its head coaching vacancy, but on June 8, 2017, he announced that he was staying with the Bluejays.
Greg McDermott led Creighton to 21-12 record in 2018. The Jays ended the season with three straight losses, including 72-68 to Providence in the Big East tournament and 69-59 to Kansas State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Creighton coach Greg McDermott comforts Marcus Foster near the end of a 69-59 loss to Kansas State in the 2018 NCAA tournament. The loss was the Jays' third straight in the NCAA tournament.