By Rubin E. Grant
When junior guard Colby Jones transferred from Pinson Valley to Mountain Brook at the start of this school year, Spartans basketball coach Bucky McMillan had an idea of what kind of player he was getting.
As a sophomore at Pinson last season, Jones demonstrated college-level skills while averaging 23.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists, leading the Indians to a regional berth and a 23-11 record.
What McMillan didn’t know was what kind of young man would be joining the Spartans. He quickly learned that Jones was a pleasant, considerate youngster.
“He’s a unique person, a great young man,” McMillan said. “I remember a situation – it’s kind of hard to describe – to show you just what kind of kid he is. He was playing a pick-up game in the gym and he had his backpack by a door that nobody really uses. A lady comes in and moves his backpack. I think she was going to do ticket sales for a volleyball game later on.
“After he finished the pick-up game, he went out of his way to find the lady. I was wondering where he was going and what he was doing. He found the lady and said to her, ‘I’m sorry you had to move my back pack.’
“He’s just a very thoughtful kid.”
On the court, the 6-foot-5 Jones’ well-rounded game already has caught the attention of college scouts. He has received scholarship offers from UAB, Samford, Middle Tennessee, South Alabama, Troy, Harvard, Yale, Iowa State and Western Kentucky.
“He’s a great high school player and he’s going to be a great college player,” McMillan said. “He’s a 6-5 two-guard who can make the 3, shoot it from mid-range and post up, and he’s an exceptional defender. Whoever the other team’s best guard is, we put Colby on him because of his length and quickness.
“He’s an unselfish player. He could score 25 points a game, but he does what we need him to do for us to be successful. He’s a coach’s dream.”
Jones displayed his court savvy during Mountain Brook’s Class 7A Northwest Regional semifinal game against James Clemens last week at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville. Jones scored a team-high 16 points, going 5 of 10 from the field and 5 of 5 from the free-throw line. He also had three rebounds, two assists and a steal as the Spartans rolled to a 62-40 victory.
The two-time defending Class 7A champion Spartans (28-3) played rival Vestavia Hills Tuesday in the regional final for a berth in next week’s state tournament at Legacy Arena.
Jones transferred to Mountain Brook after Pinson fired highly successful head coach Cedric Lane at the end of last season. Jones and Lane had a close relationship.
Jones chose Mountain Brook for more than just basketball. He carries a 4.0 grade point average.
“I thought it was the best situation for me academically and athletically,” Jones said.
“When I came over here, my teammates greeted me with open arms. It’s been a great fit for me,” he said.
He admits it took him some time to adjust to the rigorous academic standards.
“It shocked me at first the amount of work I had to do, but once I got used to it, I think it’s gone pretty good,” Jones said.
Jones made a seamless transition fitting into McMillan’s go-hard-all-the-time system.
“I think I’ve played well,” Jones said. “I have played my role. I think my role is to play defense, locking up the best guard on the other team, hitting the open shot and setting up my teammates.”
Jones has benefitted from playing alongside Mountain Brook senior forward Trendon Watford, the state’s reigning Mr. Basketball. They had never been teammates, not even in AAU ball.
“It’s been great playing with him,” Jones said. “He teaches me a lot of different things. He put me under his wings. After practice, we’ll do different post moves and he shows me how to read the defense from the post.”
Jones has a basketball pedigree. His father, Chad Jones, played on Vestavia Hills’ 1992 state championship team and later at UAB. His older brother, C.J. Jones, was a standout at Central Park Christian School in Birmingham, earning a scholarship to Arkansas. He has since transferred to Middle Tennessee State and is sitting out his junior season this year.
His dad and his brother were instrumental in Jones’ developing his game.
“I would say I was 4 or 5 when I started playing, after going to my brother’s games,” Jones said. “I learned a lot from my dad, all the fundamentals. I was in the seventh or eighth grade when I started taking it seriously.”
At times when Jones was younger, he would take on his dad one-on-one and often take a beatdown. But he believes he would have the upper hand now.
“We hadn’t played one-on-one in a minute,” Jones said. “We used to play a lot and he beat me, but now that he’s gotten older, I think I can take him.”