Jones’ on-court growth isn’t over

League’s co-MVP back to lead Blackhawks

Cheney three-sport senior standout DeAngelo Jones figures he has a lot of growing left to do – physically and figuratively.

He’s 6-foot-2. His brother, Griffon, a starter for the Community Colleges of Spokane basketball team, is 6-5.

“And I’m young for my age,” said DeAngelo, who doesn’t turn 18 until late August.

So why didn’t his parents hold him back another year?

“My mom talks about it to this day,” he said. “She thinks she should have started me later in school.”

Cheney boys basketball coach Ryan Fitzgerald would love to have Jones for another year. If that had been the case, Jones probably would have been a four-year starter.

“He was the best player on JV (junior varsity) as a freshman,” Fitzgerald said.

Jones doesn’t mind saying that basketball is his first love. In fact, he calls basketball his girlfriend.

But he’s keeping his collegiate options open at this point. A two-year starter at quarterback in football, he’s not sure which sport he’ll play at the next level.

“I definitely want to play basketball in college. I’ve grown up playing it all my life,” he said. “If I had a better offer in football than basketball I’d consider it.”

For now, the shooting guard is poised to lead the Blackhawks when they embark play in the Great Northern League in January.

“We want to get back to state, but getting to state is probably the goal for every team,” Jones said. “It’s going to be a tough league. We can’t take anybody for granted.”

Jones is one of two first-team all-league returners. The other is Clarkston senior guard Dustin McConnell, who shared league most valuable player honors last year.

“The thing about our league is you can’t take anybody for granted,” Jones said.

Jones averaged 12 points per game as a sophomore. He increased that to 17 last year, and he’s averaging 21.5 through four games this season.

“He’s so athletic, but to call him a great athlete is doing him such a disservice,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s the quintessential student-athlete. You never have to worry about him making poor decisions off the court, over the weekends.”

On the court, he’s a man among boys most of the time.

“He’s got a really good feel for the game,” Fitzgerald said. “He has an extremely explosive first step. He gets to the rim in a hurry. That’s improved a lot from last year.”

Jones got an eye-opener when he played on an Eastern Washington elite team last summer that played in tournaments in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

“I think where I improved the most was in my confidence,” Jones said. “Playing against that type of experience – the best of the best who are going on to play Division I – helped my confidence a ton.”

He had some apprehension at first.

“I had some nerves. I was in awe of some of them because they’re Division I guys,” Jones said. “But when you step out on the court, the nerves go out the window and you forget about it.”

He discovered that he blended in well with them, too.

“Just watching him grow both physically and mentally has been enjoyable,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s just so darn coachable. This year he’s taking on another role. We need him to be more of a vocal leader in the locker room and on the court.”

It’s a role Jones has embraced.

“As a sophomore I was just a young guy on the team,” Jones said. “So it’s something you just grow into. I see myself being a leader.”

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