Players who produce when the chips are down are said to have ‘ice water in their veins.’
Bitten by the chance to achieve a “lifelong dream,” Adison Jones could now be said to be sustained by chilled venom in his – as a recruited walk-on of Otero Junior College Rattler Basketball.
“It’s just a thrill, a happy moment for me … exciting,” he said after revealing his decision Monday, May 18, alongside family, Ignacio High School coaches and officials inside the Ignacio School District 11-JT Administration Building. “To get to move on … play college basketball, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
“A deserving moment is what I’d call it,” IHS head coach Chris Valdez said. “Adison started since his freshman year as a basketball player, and as a football quarterback … I mean, you talk about an outstanding athlete and a great young man! Three-point-six grade-point average … that’s the epitome of a student-athlete.”
Heading his post-Bobcat life towards La Junta, Colo., and Region IX of the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Division I hardwood world, the four-year forward/center will be part of a large-scale rebuilding effort at OJC for tenth-year skipper Houston Reed.
Numerous individuals from his 2014-15 roster will be continuing their careers at the four-year level, including guards Drew Matsushima (undecided; older sister Stephani played NCAA D-I volleyball at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.) and Kain Lucero (NCAA Div. II Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo.).
“He comes from a great program ran by Coach Valdez and is a high-character kid that comes from a great family,” Reed said via e-mail. “We have offered him a walk-on position. We think his best basketball is still in front of him … are excited to see what type of player he can develop into.”
Last winter’s Rattlers included eight listed at a Jones-like 6’3” or better, but fortunately for Reed & Co. only three were sophomores. However, only Lucero (3A Pagosa Springs), Matsushima (3A Gilcrest Valley) and guard Brandon Book (2A Swink) were Rattlers coming from CHSAA’s smaller-school ranks.
But Valdez was confident that Jones’ progression during Ignacio’s long-running Class 2A dominance will be a help, not a hindrance in his future development.
“It absolutely will,” he stated. “And with Coach Timmy [Velasquez] going to Lamar [Community College] … helping him understand what he’s up against and what he’ll see when he gets there, I think he’s got all the angles covered from that aspect, and the aspect of playing with a competitive team that’s been to the State Tournament five out of the last seven years.”
“They’ll probably put him in a position of a 3-guard, and what that will entail is guarding six-four, six-five, six-six kids,” Valdez continued. “Which is of his caliber; he’s always had to do that as a forward. But he’s a great shooter, he’s a great defender … he’s probably one of my best all-around players that I’ve ever coached, inside and outside. And that’s pretty impressive – with 21 years of coaching – to say that about a kid.”
“It’s a very accomplished thing … to play here,” Jones said, who helped the Cats go 85-15 during his time. “I have a lot of respect for this program, and it feels good to be one of the top players that came through.”
After losing by six points at North Platte, Neb., CC in the Region IX Tournament’s first round, Otero finished 16-14 overall last season, and went 6-10 (matching McCook, Neb., CC) in the region’s South Division prior to the playoffs. Sterling, Colorado’s Northeastern JC led the South with a 12-4 mark, while a 13-1 figure easily won Northwest (Powell, Wyo.) College the North Division.
“They e-mailed me and had me come out for a tryout,” said Jones, son of Greg Jones and Latitia Taylor. “And I liked the way they ran their program and everything. Just after the tryout he told me, like, that they’re offering me a three-thousand-dollar scholarship a year.”
“It is possible … receiving aid through our financial aid department not tied to athletic funds,” Reed said.
“I think I just need … [to be] a little more athletic, faster, and be able to handle the ball a little bit better,” noted Jones. “And just play defense on quicker guys; down here I had to play against mostly big guys, and playing up there I’ll have to play against guards now and have to be quick on my feet!”
“I’m excited for the adventures ahead of him,” Valdez said, “and I think he’ll go a long way. I really do.”
Simply choosing a sport, however, seemed to be the only obstacle left in Jones’ prep-level path.
“It was hard,” he said, of foregoing football. “But basketball’s always been my love; I’ve been playing since, probably, kindergarten. I started playing football, but basketball stuck and it’s something I enjoy doing.”