Stealth mode: activated.
To some extent, we know some of the prospects on Missouri’s recruiting board, but certain players remain anonymous. Recently, coach Cuonzo Martin’ has also shown he’s willing to move aggressively on local prospects before their stock blows up. This time he worked in the shadows to secure his first commitment in the 2022 class, one who is from his old stomping grounds.
East St. Louis’ own Christian Jones isn’t a well-known name yet, but the 6-foot-5 combo guard picked up buzz as the Flyers played in events during June. However, as a member of Brad Beal Elite, his minutes are limited by the presence of Jeremy Fears Jr., a top-30 prospect in the 2023 class.
He’s listed as a point guard, but his size and athleticism could project him into multiple guard spots on any roster. Martin and his staff liked enough of what they’d seen to invite Jones and his high school teammate and 2023 wing Macaleab Rich to Columbia on an unofficial visit two days after Martin extended a scholarship offer. That was June 26th. Things were clearly at an advanced state enough for Jones to make his commitment.
Christian Jones is the first commitment of the 2022 class.
Let’s Meet Christian Jones
- From: East St. Louis, Illinois
- High School: East St. Louis
- Position: Point Guard
- Ht/Wt: 6-4/170
- Rivals Ranking: NR
- 247Composite Ranking: NR
- Total announced offers: 7
- Offers to note: DePaul, Denver, UIC
Smooth, polished, controlled: adjectives that describe Jones’ game pretty well, especially when it comes to operating in ball screens. Playing in high pick-and-rolls, Jones, who averaged 6.3 assists, doesn’t explode around the corner, but he plays with enough pace to draw help — whether it’s a big helping up or a guard stunting in — and makes the correct read.
When Jones looks to score out of the pick-and-roll, his long and rangy frame is put to good use in the mid-range to convert floaters. That said, Jones, who averaged 11.2 points a game, is a little too reliant on that package at times. On some straight-line drives, he’d be better served drawing contact and earning free throws.
Jones’ jumper could use some tweaks, but there’s no wasted motion. When he steps into it, the results tend to be better. He only shot 29.6 percent from 3-point range last season, but his volume (27 3FGA) was pretty low.
Defensively, he’ll play at the front of the East St. Louis press and when they roll out a zone trap in the half-court, his length creates plenty of deflections, especially on attempted skips over the top. Jones also blocks the occasional shot when rotating down. As for rebounding, most of his are of the uncontested variety, the result of opponents sprinting back to make the Flyers run a traditional offense.
So, why take Jones now? Chandler Jackson, a top-70 prospect, was just on campus this week. It’s a classic ceiling vs. floor debate. Without a doubt, Jackson’s floor is high, and physically, the Memphis native would be ready to handle a healthy amount of minutes early on. Yet Jones’ ceiling might be higher once he’s integrated into a more structured system. Could it take a year? Probably. And nothing says MU couldn’t try to take both guards, which would give the staff ample ball-handling options alongside Anton Brookshire.
What they’re saying:
Really liked the combo of positional size/length + playmaking ability that Jones displayed in Rockford last weekend.— Endless Motor Sports (@endless_motor) July 2, 2021
Excels in ballscreen action with a solid pull-up jumper off the bounce.
Good upside here once the motor becomes consistent. https://t.co/c9nAg1EaKR