By Patrick Danielson ‘21 (he/him), Staff Writer
Bates Jones ‘21, a forward for the Men’s Basketball team, is nearing the end of his Davidson career. After four long years, the Charlotte native’s time as a Cat is nearly up, so we’re taking a look back at what Jones was able to accomplish in red and white — the triumphs and the tough moments.
Jones has loved the sport from a very young age. “I think I’ve played basketball since first grade, since I was maybe six, starting in the YMCA League,” he recalled. Through childhood and high school, he played more often as a perimeter-based player, but in college, he was able to successfully move his game closer to the basket and transition in the role of forward.
That transition, according to Jones, changed his game up massively. “As a forward, I’m focused more on post defense, and ball screen defense, which is a different role,” Jones said. “I’m helping the guards to fight over the screen, and then on offense, focusing on setting screens and getting guards open, while also finding opportunities to shoot and look for offensive opportunities that way.”
In this new position, he cited some of his strengths as shooting, finding the correct screen and setting it well, getting teammates open, and decision-making otherwise. He believes his physical abilities have grown, saying that he’s gained about 25 pounds over his college career.
For Jones, discipline and hard work are essential to his game. The forward described his routine, saying he “always tries to get to practice early to get enough time by [himself] in the gym” and to get “in the basketball mindset to get shots up.” He continued, “ once practice starts, you get locked in, you’re thinking about the drill, you’re thinking about your role in the drill. And it does not come easy–It’s a lot easier said than done.”
Jones also described the times when one underperforms their expectations, noting that these calls-to-action are opportunities to improve oneself and to become a better player. “People come in the next day with a new level of motivation, and a new level of commitment,” he said.
When deciding whether to come to Davidson, Jones pointed to a few factors that contributed to his decision. Both the school’s academic prominence and its proximity to his hometown, Charlotte, were important to him. But basketball-wise, having the opportunity to participate in March Madness was both something that Jones had always wanted to do and that Davidson could potentially provide. Jones particularly cited the importance of the NCAA Tournament run Davidson had in 2008 and reminisced on his own taste of the tournament in 2017.Jones said. “We played our game in Boise, we played Kentucky, and it was a super cool experience. Getting out to the hotel, warming up and seeing NCAA March Madness signs in the locker room, it’s just a different feel than the regular season.”
As for the upcoming season, Jones expressed high expectations for himself and the team. He believes he could be a big contributor to the ‘Cats’ success this year, slotting into whatever role is necessary to make that happen, noting, “I don’t see why we can’t win the conference.”
Catch Bates Jones and the rest of the Davidson men’s basketball team on November 25th against Texas in the Maui Invitational.