Teven Jones (FMS ’12) plays key role on UVa. hoops team

teven jonesUVa. basketball was reeling. After earning an NCAA Tournament berth at the end of the 2011-2012 season, the Cavaliers stumbled out of the gate in 2012-2013 to a 1-2 start in large part due to the absence of starting point guard Jontel Evans.

Evans’ first-year backup, Teven Jones, also had to miss those first three games due to injury. Jones, a 2012 alum of Fishburne Military School, finally made his Virginia basketball debut on Nov. 17, sparking an 83-43 win over Seattle with a 25-minute effort that earned him the starting nod for the Cavs’ next game, a 63-44 win over North Texas.

Jones’ performances helped the ‘Hoos embark upon an eight-game winning streak that turned what had started off as a forgettable season into something else entirely. As winter turns to spring, Virginia is on the verge of going back to the NCAA Tournament, and Jones has played an integral role in that march to success.

“There’s no question that he has given us great minutes. He allows our guys to play their natural spots. When he and Jontel can play together. He gives us some quickness. To do what he’s done, I’ve been very pleased,” UVa. coach Tony Bennett said.

The long stretch of starts matured Jones quickly. “I’m not a freshman anymore,” he said after a December win over Tennessee.

Ed Huckaby, who coached Jones in his year in the FMS postgraduate program, was on hand for that game with Tennessee. Huckaby thinks Jones is “just scratching the surface of what he can do as a basketball player” in his first year in the rugged Atlantic Coast Conference.

“UVa. has great players – Joe Harris, Akil Mitchell, Justin Anderson. Teven recognizes that he doesn’t need to be the focal point scoring. He can score, but he’s embraced that role of being the facilitator,” said Huckaby, who had Jones play a similar role for the 2011-2012 Caissons.

Jones was a key member of that Fishburne team, but at Huckaby’s urging, Jones left FMS in January to start his college career as a redshirt freshman at UVa. Bennett’s squad had suffered several significant midseason personnel losses due to injuries and transfers, and was in need of extra bodies in practice.

The move “helped the team” as it worked toward an NCAA berth, Bennett said, and also gave Jones a “bit of a boost.”

“It gave him an extra year of practice, of learning our system, and you can see it on the court now,” Bennett said. “There’s a learning curve to our system, and there’s no shortcut to it. You have to be able to go through it, you have to get reps, and I think it shows that he’s a little more familiar and aware of things that need to be done.”

“It definitely helped me and definitely helped the team,” Jones said of his redshirt season. “It was hard learning the Pack-Line defense and getting comfortable with the offense. It’s a quicker pace to the game, and I had to get used to it. Getting here early helped me do that.”

Bennett’s gain was Huckaby’s loss. Jones’ departure didn’t help Fishburne on its quest for a chance at the program’s first national title, but Huckaby felt the tradeoff was well worth it in the end.

“Teven just fit the culture here at Fishburne,” Huckaby said. “I always look for players that fit the Fishburne profile. Teven Jones is as good an example as you can get in fitting the culture of something positive. He represented Fishburne in the highest manner that you can ask for.”

Jones said his time at FMS under Huckaby “definitely helped my game.” He can still hear echoes of Huckaby, himself a former college point guard, pushing him to step up to be a team leader.

“When I would get tired, and I’d be maybe letting off a little bit, he’d be on me. He’d say, Your teammates are depending on you more now. You’re my point guard, so you have to push through. That’s where Coach helped me grow the most as a player,” Jones said.

More on Fishburne Military School postgrad basketball at www.FishburnePGBasketball.org.

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