Jones inks with Rend Lake
Hayti’s All-State star hoops player, Darius Jones, recently signed a National Letter of Intent with Rend Lake College, located in Ina, Illinois. Surrounded by family, friends and coaches, Jones put ink to paper in a ceremony in the school gymnasium lobby Friday morning, Feb. 23.
Jones, both a two-time All-Conference and All-District player, has averaged 21 points, five rebounds and four assists per game. He was also selected to the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament All-Tournament Team.
Pleased with Jones and his total commitment to his game, Coach Aaron Bidewell spoke of his work ethic. “He’s always been a kid who can shoot and, if there’s a kid in southeast Missouri who puts more time in the gym than he does, then I don’t know who it is,” he said. “He’s put in the work. A lot of kids have college basketball dreams, but nobody wants to put in the work.
“He’s in here every single day shooting, working on his shot,” Bidewell continued. “There’s a reason why he makes those shots in the big games, like last night against Bernie (Class 2 District 1 championship game).”
Bidewell further noted Jones’ progress as a defensive player. “If there’s one thing that he’s changed more than anything else is his role of guarding, which he is taking more seriously this year. That’s one of the bigger reasons why we’re still playing, along with his taking rebounding more seriously. His rebounding numbers are up by three,” he said.
One of Jones’ greatest attributes, Bidewell further states, is his leadership qualities. “He has taken a leadership role,” he said. “Sometimes it’s easy trying to be a leader by yelling at people getting on to them. But Darius, and Kobe (Cooper) take their leadership roles a little differently; they just come to work every day, and I think that’s the best kind of leadership that anybody can get. The guys who come to work every day are the guys the younger players are going to look up to.”
Bidewell is confident of Jones’ ability to make it at the collegiate level, but still offers the departing senior a few words of wisdom. “At the college level, he’ll need to get bigger, and he’s not afraid of the weight room,” he said. Bidewell said Jones will need to continue to improve his knowledge and skill, particularly defensively, as the competition will escalate in the college ranks.
Humbled at the opportunity to play college basketball, Jones says he feels good about his progress as a high school player, but knows he must continue to make great strides in his game. “I feel good about how I’ve progressed as a player, and I’ve worked really hard to become a better player every year. Being a leader was one of my goals, because I wanted us to win,” he said. “And college is going to be tougher. I’ve got to get bigger. I have to be fast, because the pace of the game gets much faster at the college level.”
Darius said he would like to thank his mother Lea Jones and his coaches. “I would also like to thank my teammates for getting in the gym every day and working hard,” he added.
Regarding Jones and his other star senior, Kobe Cooper, Coach Bidewell had this to say: “Both these guys have wonderful parents. As a coach, if your players have parents who support them, it makes things so much easier. I’ve coached these two guys so hard, and every time I’ve talked to their parents there’s never been one negative thing. They have a wonderful support system in their parents. That’s probably why they’re going to play next year, and I wish more parents were like them. They allow people to be tough on them, because life is tough. They have parents who allow coaches and teachers to be hard on them, and that’s why they’re going to be successful later on down the roads of life.”