Teven Jones: ACC championship for UVa. was ‘best experience of my life’

teven-jonesThe first thing going through the mind of Teven Jones as he climbed the ladder to take his snip at the net being cut down to mark UVa.’s first outright regular-season ACC championship since 1981: “Don’t fall down.”

It started to sink in quickly, though, what Jones, a 2012 alum of the Fishburne Military School postgraduate basketball program, and his teammates had been able to accomplish.

“To hear the crowd give me a standing ovation, it was a great feeling. And I looked over and saw my mom and my uncle and aunt in the corner, and I pointed at them, and they waved back. That was probably the greatest moment in my life right there,” said Jones, a redshirt sophomore.

Jones has seen his playing time reduced this year, to 4.8 minutes per game after logging 13.5 minutes per game and making nine starts as a freshman in 2012-2013. The emergence of freshman point guard London Perrantes is the main reason for that, but Jones has accepted his reduction in minutes on the floor knowing that he still plays an important role on the team.

“I don’t get as much playing time as last year, so I treat practice as my games and try to get my teammates better every day,” said Jones, who runs the scout team at the point and goes at Perrantes hard on defense.

Jones is one of the better defensive point guards in the ACC, “and me pressuring him like I do in practice, no other guard pressures him like that. So when he gets in the games, he’s more comfortable, because when other guards do pressure him, it’s nothing like he sees in practice. That helps him a lot,” Jones said.

The team got off to a slow start. After being ranked in the preseason AP Top 25, UVa. stumbled out of the gate to a 9-4 start that included a demoralizing 87-52 loss at Tennessee on Dec. 30. Jones said the Tennessee game was a “reality check” that served as a foundation for the Cavs’ 16-1 run through the ACC with one game left in the regular season, on Sunday at Maryland.

“We go by the mantra of, Two feet on each step,” Jones said. “Right now, our goal is to beat Maryland, and then after that the ACC Tournament championship. And then after that, you know, everybody is sleeping on us about the NCAA Tournament, but in our eyes, we think we can win it al. So our focus is on getting better every day.”

And Jones may yet play a key role on the floor as UVa. makes its run through March and maybe into April.

“I stay ready by practicing hard every day, and from the mental side of it, I just keep a positive mindset,” Jones said. “You see me cheering my teammates on all the time. I just stay loose, and if my number is called, I’m ready to go out there and contribute. If I play my role and do my job, I’ll be fine. Coach Bennett has called on me a few times this season to give the team a lift, and I’ve been able to do that, and I’m ready whenever my number is called.”

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