From seemingly the minute he arrived on the Robert Morris campus three years ago, Lucky Jones has been an integral part of the Colonials’ basketball success.
The rangy, athletic forward has provided the program with a valuable and versatile skill set, one that includes a natural scoring instinct, strong rebounding and a tenacious presence on the defensive end.
In a game predicated upon orchestrating so many moving parts together, Jones knows it can be counterintuitive to put one player above anyone else in the collective unit. That sentiment is understandable, but in his case this upcoming season, it might be unavoidable.
After years of being a crucial contributor for Robert Morris, Jones, a senior, is poised to be the focal point, a heightened responsibility he is prepared to accept.
“I’m trying to turn over a new leaf,” he said. “I know my name is out there for Robert Morris and as a whole; we’re coming up in NCAA basketball.
“But I want to make it known that we have a lot of great guys on our team, we have a lot of great coaches, and I definitely want to be one of the guys that keeps the trend going of good Robert Morris basketball.”
Throughout the summer, that potential has been on display in the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am. Before the league’s final regular season game Monday, Jones was second among all participants in scoring at 28.2 points per game, trailing only Pitt’s Cam Wright.
Part of that increased production has come from the experience of seeing how the star role on the Colonials has been handled.
His first two seasons, there was Velton Jones, a bulldog of a point guard who etched his name near the top of the program’s career records for points and assists. Last season, it was Karvel Anderson, the sweet-shooting junior-college transfer who was named the Northeast Conference’s player of the year.
Like Anderson last season, Jones has noticed areas of his game that he could refine and has spent the offseason working to improve them.
“He’s been a guy who’s been really active rebounding the ball, getting fouled and things like that,” Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said. “We’re just working on the in-between stuff — being able to create space with his footwork, being able to create space off the dribble, making some of the in-between shots, whether it’s jump shots or floaters.
“It’s something he’s been working on all spring and all summer. Hopefully it’s something he can continue to improve upon and really bring to the floor next season.”
Like other players in the Pro-Am, Jones’ numbers don’t exist in a vacuum.
The league is defined by a fast, free-wheeling style of play conducive to big offensive statistics, meaning it’s very likely he’s closer to the 13.9 points per game he averaged last season than the scoring lines he has put up this summer.
But, in the eternal hope of the summer with the season still months away, could it possibly be a preview of what’s to come?
“Something like that,” Jones said with a smile. “I’m not going to put it out there, but I’m working on my game to where these numbers will come easily during the season.”
Craig Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG.