No luck involved in Jones' improved play

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The annual Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am summer league provides local college players the opportunity to hone their skills against high-quality competition.

Lucky Jones made sure he didn't let that chance go to waste.

The Robert Morris sophomore was the breakout Colonial performer this summer at the Greentree SportsPlex, averaging 15.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game during the summer league's regular season.

Jones' biggest game, though, was in the first round of the playoffs, when he scored 30 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead his PGT Trucking team to victory.

PGT ultimately won the league championship Wednesday, and Jones was named to the all-league team.

"Whenever you put him on the floor, he's always noticed by people watching and he's always involved," Colonials coach Andy Toole said. "I think the summer league was just a good indication of that."

In that playoff game, Jones shot 13 of 19 overall, and 2 of 5 from 3-point range. His 30 points were the fourth-highest point total from any player this summer.

"I was just doing what I did most nights, but I was doing more of it," Jones said. "Just going to the basket strong, making my free throws and making my shots.

Jones, a 6-foot-5 guard/forward, noted he has improved around the basket, something he struggled with in his first season as a Colonial.

"That'll change just because I'm strong enough to finish around the basket and go up strong," he said.

"Last year, I wasn't as strong, being a freshman."

Jones will play a major role for the Colonials this season. As a rookie, he averaged 8.5 points and a team-high 6.1 rebounds per game. In Northeast Conference play his 9.9 points per game were second highest on the team.

Jones thinks he has plenty of room for improvement.

"It was good, but not as good as I wanted to be," Jones said.

"I really couldn't score the ball as much as I wanted at the beginning of the year because I had to get used to the talent and the level of competition out on the court."

In addition to spending a year in the weight room, Jones also has improved his ball-handling ability this offseason, according to Toole. That should allow him to get even more involved offensively.

"If he can handle the ball better, that'll allow us to put him in different situations where he can take advantage," Toole said.

NOTES - Jones wasn't the only Colonial to be honored for his summer league play. His PGT teammate and incoming Robert Morris freshman Stephan Hawkins was named to the league's all-newcomer team. Hawkins averaged 6.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game this summer. ... Two key Colonials saw limited or no action this summer due to injury. Velton Jones missed most of the summer due to a lingering back injury, as well as class conflicts. He played in one game late in the summer, scoring 11 points with eight assists. Forward Lijah Thompson missed the summer league to recover from offseason foot surgery. Toole said he expected Thompson to be back to 100 percent by the middle of August.


Sam Werner: or on Twitter @SWernerPG


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