Rick Pitino's search for Peyton Siva's replacement at point guard is over. Chris Jones, the nation's top-ranked junior college prospect, committed to Louisville Monday after making an official visit with the Cardinals last weekend.
Chris Jones chose Louisville over Baylor, Oklahoma St., FSU and Kansas
Jones, a former Memphis high school standout, led Northwest Florida State to the NJCAA national championship game last season as a freshman. He visited Baylor and Oklahoma State before choosing the Cardinals, and cancelled visits to Florida State and Kansas.
"[Pitino] has big plans for me," Jones told InsideTheVille.com. "He wants to put the ball in my hands and let me do my thing. He wants to win a national championship and help me get to the next level. He said he's ready to coach me."
One of the main reasons Jones picked Louisville was the opportunity to start right away for a national contender next season after Siva graduates. Jones, who will have two years eligibility remaining, said he was impressed with Pitino's relationship with Siva, who he figures to replace at point next season.
"I think him and Peyton Siva have a good relationship," Jones said. "It was good seeing that and how he coaches point guards. [Siva] was telling me he's like a father to him and will be there the rest of his life. That meant a lot too."
In a top heavy point guard class nationally that lacked quality depth, a former Division 1 assistant told InsideTheVille.com that Jones is one of the "two or three best point guards available this year regardless of class."
"I think Louisville is a great choice…based upon their tradition, Coach Pitino, their style of play and their need," said Steve Forbes, Jones' junior college coach.
Regarded as a big-time scorer coming out of his high school, Jones has improved his point guard skills in junior college. Though Jones averaged 18 points per game last season, he also dished out 4.2 assists while leading his team to a 27-2 record.
"I think that's probably the area he's shown the most progression - showing the ability to get other people involved," Forbes said. "Before the national championship game this past year the most shots he took in a game was fifteen. There were a lot of times I had to ask him to score more. I think he's become a very good distributor, gets guys good open shots, and the more talented the guys he plays with the more he''l do that."
A ballhawking 5-11, 185-pound guard, Forbes believes Jones will excel defensively at the next level because of his quickness, sticky hands and penchant for creating turnovers.
"He can put a lot of pressure on the ball," Forbes said. "He's got quick feet and a great body and he's one of the best players I've ever coached getting 50-50 balls. We play full court man, we press and only gave up 58 points. He's going to be ready to defend at that level. Some teams may try to take advantage of his height, but he's quick, strong and gets his hands on the ball a lot."
Jones, regarded as a Top 50 prospect coming out of high school, signed with Tennessee before heading to junior college.
JUCO Stats: 18 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.8 steals. 44 percent (166-376) FG; 39 percent (50-127) 3PT FG; 71 percent (105-147) FT.
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