By Rubin E. Grant
Colby Jones had an idea what it would be like transferring to Mountain Brook from Pinson Valley before his junior year in high school.
But after two seasons of playing basketball for the Spartans, he said it was even better than he expected.
“It changed my life playing over here,” Jones said. “My teammates brought me in and helped with the transition, then I started working with the coaches and I got progressively better as a player, faster. But more than that, it taught me so much about life.”
Playing alongside McDonald’s All-American Trendon Watford last season, Jones helped the Spartans win their third consecutive Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 7A state championship.
This season after Watford had departed for LSU, Jones became the Spartans’ top dog.
The versatile 6-foot-5 senior swingman proved more than capable of handling the role. He averaged 25.2 points, shooting 59.2% from the field, including 48.8% on 3-pointers (40 of 82). He also averaged 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.5 steals, leading the Spartans to a 32-3 record and runner-up finish in Class 7A.
For his performance, Jones is the 2020 Over The Mountain Journal’s Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
“I feel like I had a pretty good season,” Jones said. “I stepped into a new role. We lost a lot of scoring from last year, so they asked me to score more. Early on in my high school career, I was a shooter and scorer. Last year I had to adjust to different roles and I think it helped my overall game.”
Jones is joined on the 2020 All-OTM boys team by guards Holt Bashinsky from Mountain Brook, D.J. Fairley from Hoover, Cam Crawford from Spain Park and Zane Nelson from Oak Mountain.
The forwards are Win Miller from Vestavia Hills, Carter Sobera from Mountain Brook and Pate Owen from Homewood. The centers are Will Shaver from Oak Mountain and Chance Beard from Briarwood.
Oak Mountain’s Chris Love is the OTMJ Coach of the Year.
Last Friday, Jones scored 12 points and collected 12 rebounds as the Alabama Boys’ All-Stars defeated Mississippi 118-113 in the 30th Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic in Clinton, Mississippi.
Mountain Brook coach Bucky McMillan raves about Jones’ versatility and court savvy.
“He’s an all-round, do-everything player,” McMillan said. “He can shoot the 3, the mid-range jumper and finish at the basket. He’s a great defender and can guard any position. He understands on-ball defense and off-ball defense. There’s not an area of his game where he’s not good. Plus, he’s very coachable, smart in the classroom and has great character.”
The Spartans saw their reign atop Class 7A end with a 40-38 loss to Lee-Montgomery in the championship game. It was Mountain Brook’s only loss to an in-state school during the season, but Jones put it in perspective.
“We had a great season,” he said. “It just didn’t end how we wanted.”
Ready for the Next Level
Jones believes his time at Pinson Valley under coach Cedric Lane and at Mountain Brook under McMillan has prepared him to succeed at the next level. He has signed with Xavier.
“I had two great coaches, coach Lane and coach Bucky,” Jones said. “What they instilled in me helped me be a better player and person. I experienced different situations and that helped my court awareness.”
Jones also said his dad, Chad Jones, was instrumental in his development. Chad Jones played on Vestavia Hills’ 1992 state championship team and later at UAB.
“My dad helped me a lot, especially when I was younger, working on the fundamentals,” Colby Jones said.
Jones chose Xavier over Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia and Stanford, among other schools. Jones cited his relationship with the Xavier coaching staff as his main reason for choosing the Musketeers.
“It really came down to the coaches, I have the utmost trust in the coaches,” Jones said. “I am really happy with my decision to go to Xavier. I have no regrets.”
Jones is looking forward to the challenge of playing college basketball.
“It’s going to be the start of a whole new experience, playing at the next level and meeting new people,” he said.
Love Shares Credit
Love guided Oak Mountain to its first state tournament appearance. The Eagles lost to eventual champion Lee-Montgomery 65-57 in the Class 7A semifinals and finished with a 22-9 record.
“I’m very honored and humbled to be named coach of the year,” Love said. “Out of those (Over the Mountain) programs, there are a lot of good coaches.
“Making the Final Four for the first time in school history was special. We had some good talent this season and good talent can make a good coach out of anybody.
“I give a lot of credit to my assistant Donald McMahon, who I consider a co-head coach. He handles as much of what we do as anybody. He’s great with X’s and O’s and he has a great relationship with the kids.”