Women’s basketball head coach, Jalie Mitchell was impressed when she first scouted then-sophomore guard Summer Jones. At the time, Jones was busy leading Seminole State to a 20-point victory over Northern Oklahoma Tonkawa with a 26-point performance.
She was not just impressed by the one performance from the Edmond, Oklahoma-native. Mitchell saw Jones lead the Belles to the semifinals of the NJCAA Region II tournament as a sophomore. Her numbers were just the first thing to grab Mitchell’s eye.
“Honestly, it was her numbers that attracted me before I ever saw her,” Mitchell said. “She was a 44 percent shooter and a 41 percent 3-point shooter. She was clearly a great shooter at [Seminole State] and any college is a step up from high school, so she had to [learn] to get her shot up against bigger and faster opponents [at] a different level. So, I thought her percentages were impressive.”
At Seminole State, Jones averaged 13.4 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game in two seasons. In addition to shooting splits as Mitchell mentioned, Jones shot 87 percent from the free-throw line.
“I got to see her ability to get a shot off, with some quick-release ability,” Mitchell said. “She could use screens and find open looks. I also got to see that [Jones] was solid from close range and pull up and things like that, which I think she’s shown here.”
Jones transferred to North Texas to join the team for her junior season this past offseason. She would join eight other players to play their first season with North Texas in the 2019-20 campaign, coming off of a season in which the Mean Green went 18-16 and 7-9 in Conference-USA play.
Jones got back into her groove as she scored 24 points in her first four games with the Mean Green, however, she ran into some struggles making the transition to Division I.
“It took her some time to get used to the pace of our system and even the division which is going to step up from junior-college play,” Mitchell said. “I think the pace of [the conference play] and the physicality of it was an adjustment for her.”
Jones’ play has declined in terms of statistics since joining North Texas. She’s averaged 5.5 points a contest on 33 percent shooting and a 3-point percentage of 32. But as the season has progressed, her numbers have improved.
“I feel like I’m still learning and progressing through a lot here,” Jones said. “But, my confidence has improved. I’ve begun to learn the offense and adjust to the pace of the play because everything is different from the junior level.”
Since beginning conference play, Jones has averaged two-points more a game than she was in pre-conference play this season. She’s also averaging 18.5 minutes per game compared to the 13.3 minutes she played.
“In the last month or so, she’s began to understand where she can help us,” Mitchell said. “Shooting, obviously. As a shooter you want to be super consistent and she’s one of those players that’s very confident in every shot they shoot and that’s how you have to be as a shooter, even when [shots] aren’t falling.”
Jones has hit the most 3-pointers for the Mean Green this season with 33-makes, and she holds the second-best three-point shooting percentage on the team. Since conference-play began, Jones leads the team in shooting percentage from deep and has scored the fifth most points on the team, playing a major role from the perimeter for this season.
“I’m just looking to get better after every single game,” Jones said. “And confidence-wise I’m getting up there. When I first got here, I was more hesitant and unsure about my shot-selection and I feel better now.”
With nine players in their first season on this team — five of those being freshman — new leaders had to step up for North Texas and Jones was one of them.
“She’s been a really good teammate to me,” freshmen guard N’Yah Boyd said. “She’s been great on the floor to find for open shots, but she’s also helped me a lot off the floor helping me through struggles and other things.”
Jones is playing in her third collegiate season so she is helping other players transition to a new level of play, but she’s also transitioning herself.
Mitchell expects Jones to continue to grow by becoming a more talented and intelligent player underneath her in the season and a half Jones has left to play here.
“I see [Jones] continuing to … improve in the future,” Mitchell said. “I think she’s going to get stronger, smarter and understand defenses even better to become a better shooter.”
Jones has stepped into a leadership role on and off the court and has another season with the Mean Green to continue to progress.
“You have to go get reps in,” Mitchell said. “Get in the gym and make sure you’re shooting percentage is where it needs to be. Her percentages aren’t as high as junior-college, but she has time. So, I think she’ll grow and deliver even more efficient numbers than that.”
Featured Image: Junior guard Summer Jones prepares to shoot the ball in practice on Feb 7, 2020. Image by Zachary Thomas