Nov. 18, 2002
Nick Jones spells success for UCSB. As a junior, Jones should again play an important role for the Gauchos. Last year he was once again one of the team's most valuable and versatile offensive players, but just as importantly, he was one of its most improved defensive players. While the Gauchos are deep in the backcourt, Jones brings a lot more to the team than statistics. He is a big part of UCSB's heart, soul and energy.
After breaking his foot in high school and almost losing it to an infection, Jones has learned the values of faith and teamwork. Without his family and friends to help him through his injury, he never would have succeeded. Additionally, his faith played a strong part in helping him to overcome his hard times, and it still helps him now. An active member of Soka CoaKaii International, a Buddhist Organization, Jones values the outlook that this faith has shed on his life.
In each of his two seasons, Jones has begun the season as a reserve for the Gauchos. As a freshman, he came off the bench for the first nine games of the season as the team posted a 2-7 record. Last year, Jones was a reserve for the first 15 games. In 200-01, once he entered the starting lineup, he never left, starting the final 19 as UCSB went a solid 11-8. Last year, Jones started the final 16 games and in those 16 contests, the Gauchos went 10-6. In his 16 starts last season, Jones averaged 12.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He also made 44.0% of his field goals overall and 27-of-60 from three-point range, 45.0%.
In the second half of his freshman campaign, Jones was the instrumental factor in several comeback wins for UCSB. Last year, his biggest moments came at the most important time, in the Big West Tournament. Jones, a Big West All-Freshman Team member in 2001, waited until the league's postseason tournament in 2002 to earn an honor. Following the Gauchos march through the Big West Tournament with victories over Utah State, UC Irvine and Cal Poly, Jones became the first Santa Barbara player ever to earn the Big West Tournament Most Valuable Player Award.
Jones is the type of player who doesn't have to pile-up glossy statistics to make major contributions. Often times, the energy Jones brings to the game can change the team's fortunes. In his run to the 2002 Big West Tournament MVP award, he brought the energy, but he also produced some outstanding statistics. In the opening game, a 74-65 win over Cal Poly, Jones had 11 points, seven rebounds and a pair of assists. He also made three three-point baskets against the Mustangs. In game two, a 66-61 win over two-time Big West Player of the Year Jerry Green and second-seeded UC Irvine, Jones poured in 21 points, hitting 6-of-8 field goals overall and 2-for-3 from three-point range. He also had two assists and two steals. In the championship game, a low-scoring 60-56 win over top-seeded Utah State, Jones had ten points, four rebounds and two steals.
Mark Hull and Branduinn Fullove combined for 136 three-point baskets last year. So, which one led the Gauchos in three-point field goal percentage? Neither. Jones led UCSB in three-point shooting. After making just 32.3% of his three-point attempts as a freshman, Jones improved to 42.4% as a junior, making 36-of-85. In fact, after making just 3-for-12 from three-point territory to open the season, he went 33-of-73, 45.2%, to close the campaign. Jones made at least one three-pointer in each of the last nine games of the year, going 19-of-36, 52.8%. In a regular season home game against UC Irvine, he made a career-high four three-pointers.