Five-foot-seven guard has an Edge to his game
Mo Jones plays with a chip on his shoulder. Has since the day he stepped on a basketball court.
When hoops is your game, and you stand only 5-foot-7, you tend to develop a bit of an attitude.
This Edge guard has an edge to his game. And it’s what makes him great.
“Yeah, definitely,” Jones answered when asked if he plays the game with something to prove. “I have my whole life.
“I’ve been overlooked time and again because of my size. ‘Yeah, he can play, but he’s small.’ I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard that. Or, ‘He can’t play at this level.’
“I always play with a chip on my shoulder because people have never judged me on my talent, but always on my size.”
Traded to the Edge in September, Maurice Jones is part of the Edge roster makeover as the team prepares for its second season in the National Basketball League of Canada. On paper, this looks like a strong squad, and Jones is a key piece of the puzzle.
The league’s rookie of the year while toiling with the Windsor Express in 2016-17, Jones was one of three players to hit for 50-plus points last season (the others being NBL MVP Carl English of St. John’s, and erstwhile Edge player Charles Hinkle).
Jones finished last season with 17.6 points and 5.8 assists per game. He led the league in total steals with 91.
What Jones lacks in height, he makes for it with grit and determination.
“He was one of the guys we talked about all summer,” said English, the architect of the current roster while serving as interim general manager over the summer. “We played Windsor, what, 10 times, and he was tough every game.
“He kind of reminds me of Allen Iverson. He’ll take a hit and get back up every time. He never stops. He's aggressive, and he's a hell of a scorer.”
“Every time I lace ’em up, I have something to prove,” said Jones, who turns 27 next month. “That’s the way I approach the game. I can’t take any days off or nights off.
“It’s always been, ‘He can play, but …’ ‘He’s a good player, but …’ It really shouldn’t matter as long as I can get the job done.
“Being 5-7 hasn’t been difficult for me. The hardest part was getting people to believe in me and believe in the thing things that I can do. I’ve always been successful on the basketball court because I’ve worked hard enough, I’ve studied the game. It was a matter of getting others to see that and believe in me because of my size.”
The player English describes as a “little savage” doesn’t, pardon the pub, give an inch on the court. While he can be as physical as the next player, Jones likes to play it smart, think his way around the court by being a step or three ahead of the next guy.
It’s been that way since his days of Amateur Athletic Union minor ball back in Saginaw, Mich., when he was teammates with Draymond Green. And when he played high school ball, and was a rival of the current Golden State Warriors star.
Jones was good enough at Arthur Hill High School in Saginaw that the University of Southern California offered him an athletic scholarship.
During his first season with the Trojans, Jones averaged almost 10 points per game and made the PAC-12 all-freshman team, and the following season in Los Angeles scored 13 points a game.
But then came word, according to media reports, that Jones was academically ineligible to play in 2012-13.
He transferred to Iowa State, but that fell through and he wound up back home in Saginaw, sitting out the year.
As luck would have it, a friend was attending Northwood University in nearby Midland, Mich.
Jones joined the DII Timberwolves and in two seasons at Northwood averaged 14.7 and 20.9 points per game while earning first- and second-team all-conference all-star berths.
These days, Jones is excited to be part of the Edge. He liked the atmosphere at Mile One Centre last season when he was a visiting player, and he likes the roster that’s been assembled so far.
“The coaching staff (headed by Doug Plumb) and Carl have done a good job piecing together this roster,” Jones said. “On paper, we’re very strong. But it’s our job now to mesh and come together as a team and make everything happen the way it’s supposed to.”
The Edge are currently in training camp at the Newfoundland and Labrador Training Centre in St. John’s. The team will head to Grand Falls-Windsor Saturday where it will continue camp for six days.
St. John’s opens the season Nov. 18 on the road in London, Ont. against the defending champion Lightning, followed by a Nov. 21 game in Jones’s old Windsor stomping grounds.
The Edge’s home opener is Nov. 23 against the Moncton Magic, followed by a Nov. 25 rematch.
2018-19 St. John’s Edge training camp roster
Nick Banyard (Central Florida)
** Guillaume Boucard (Carleton)
Todd Brown (Wright State)
** Junior Cadougan (Marquette)
** Carl English (Hawaii)
*** Gabe Freeman (Mesa CC)
Maurice Jones (Northwood)
*** Ted Kapita (North Carolina State)
Des Lee (North Carolina State)
JT Miller (Missouri State)
Jared Nickens (Maryland)
** Jarryn Skeete (Buffalo)
*** Satnam Signh (IMG Academy)
Bryce Washington (UL Layfayette)
** Kevin Zabo (Kent State)
** denotes Canadian
*** denotes not yet in camp