One year after leaving the Crusader Forum, Jones is going dancing. The former Riordan High School star and two-time Examiner boys’ basketball Player of the Year started at forward as a freshman this season for the University of San Diego and helped lead the Toreros to the West Coast Conference tournament title and a berth in this week’s NCAA Tournament. The Toreros (21-13) earned the No. 13 seed in the West Region and will face fourth-seeded Connecticut (24-8) on Friday in Tampa, Fla., at 11:50 a.m.
San Diego is making just its fourth appearance in the NCAA Tournament and first since 2003. What have things been like on campus the past few days? It’s been amazing. Everyone has been really supportive, and I think it’s a different atmosphere from what the school is used to.
The team rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat St. Mary’s in double overtime in the WCC semifinals. How were you able to pull that off? At halftime, the coaches told each and every one of us we could play better than we had. Then, with about seven minutes left in the second half, we turned it on and wouldn’t be denied.
San Diego hosted the tournament and your fans rushed the floor after both the St. Mary’s win and the championship game victory over Gonzaga. What was it like being in the middle of that? We’ve had that happen a few times this year and it’s just one of the best feelings imaginable. And, the Gonzaga rush was the best one I’ve ever been a part of.
Are you surprised at all you’re going to the NCAA Tournament so early in your college career? Honestly, I’m not. I know we’re a young team [the Toreros have no seniors], but we knew we had the talent to do it. It’s been a big year for us.