ShawnDre' Jones has to be Mr. Everything for Richmond
“Everything,” said the Spiders' head coach. “That’s the hard part. That’s where so much responsibility is on our older players.”
Indeed, the 6-0, 165-pound Jones carries quite a load on his slender shoulders. He is the lead returning guard and one of three experienced seniors on a team that has seven freshmen and sophomores.
“My role this year is to do everything that we need,” Jones said. “If we need me to score points in a game, fine, I’ll do that. If we need me to be more of a facilitator, I’ll do that. If we need me to just go out there and lead guys to where they have to be, I’ll do that.
“My job this year is to make sure everybody’s doing what they’re supposed to do, be the leader of this team and supply us with everything a senior should do when the team needs him.”
Jones burst out of the chute with a 31-point game in a win against VMI on Nov. 11. Heading into Richmond's Atlantic 10 opener at Davidson Saturday on ASN, he's averaging 16.8 points per game, second on the Spiders behind T.J. Cline.
“I feel like I’m playing OK. There’s a lot of stuff I can do better — the main thing being to stay out of foul trouble,” Jones said with a chuckle. “There’s a lot of room for improvement this year.”
“He’s a scorer,” Mooney said, “but he also has an incredibly good feel for the game. He’s savvy. We certainly don’t need him to have foul trouble. That would be the No. 1 thing. And he has to really help other guys be good players.
“So many things are thrown his way, but he’s unbelievably coachable. He has a great way of understanding what’s being said. But there is a lot on him, not only for himself, but to distribute to other guys so that we can be better.”
Jones is the latest in the Spiders’ recent lineage of quality, productive guards that includes Kevin Anderson, Darien Brothers, Cedrick Lindsay and Kendell Anthony. Anderson and Anthony are among the top four scorers in Richmond history, and Jones played alongside Lindsay and Anthony.
“Watching those guys and being roommates with those guys,” Jones said, “seeing their mentality and their approach and everything that goes into how they stepped into the game, that helped me a lot.”
Richmond's 6-6 non-conference record includes a 67-54 victory against Boston College and an 88-82 overtime loss to Maryland in the Barclays Center Classic. The Spiders relish the opportunity to play power conference opponents, particularly on a neutral court. The Spiders historically have fared well, witness their 2011 run to the NCAA Sweet 16 and tournament wins against South Carolina, Auburn, Indiana and Georgia Tech. Last season, they defeated California and Wake Forest, as well as NCAA Tournament team Northern Iowa.
“I really love it,” Jones said. “You couldn’t ask for (anything) better, to go up there, be the underdog, people not expecting you to do anything, and you go out there and play well. It’s really a good feeling, internally. I just can’t wait. I love it. I can’t wait. I’m ready.”
Photo courtesy Richmond Athletics