Our first player preview focuses on junior guard Matt Jones. Leading up to the season, we’ll be featuring each player on the roster in a preview that helps Duke fans get ready for the 2015-16 season.
On last year’s team, Matt Jones was one of the role players who rarely received the credit he deserved.
While Duke’s freshman class received plenty of attention, along with the stellar play of senior captain Quinn Cook, Jones was often viewed as an afterthought in terms of Duke’s success. However, it was the steady play of the 6’5” shooting guard from DeSoto, Tex., that helped the Blue Devils weather the storm of the dismissal of Rasheed Sulaimon.
And it was Jones who stepped up with 16 points and four 3-pointers to help propel Duke to the Final Four in an Elite Eight win over Gonzaga.
Games Played: 39 | Games Started: 14 | 21.7 minutes per game
6.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.0 apg, 41% FG, 38% 3FG%, 71% FT
Best Games – 17 points in 90-60 win over Notre Dame | 17 points in 94-51 win over Wake Forest | 16 points in 66-52 Elite Eight win over Gonzaga
As the lone returning starter from Duke’s NCAA Tournament run, Jones will be counted on to provide leadership and experience this season, which is evident in Mike Krzyzewski naming him one of the team’s captains.
Through his first two seasons, Matt Jones often finds himself as the “forgotten man” when it comes to people talking about Duke, but he always finds a way to earn significant minutes in Coach K’s rotation. His ability to defend multiple positions makes him a valuable asset and his improved three-point shooting last season was crucial for the team in some big moments.
This season, he will be competing for minutes on the Duke wing with Grayson Allen, Brandon Ingram, and Luke Kennard. While he may not be as flashy as any of those players, Jones will do many of the little things needed for the team to be successful.
I expect Jones to have a spot in Duke’s starting lineup to begin the season, though that role could evolve throughout the year. He’ll likely draw the assignment of guarding the other team’s best offensive player in many of Duke’s games, especially now that Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook have both moved on to the NBA.
There could be a slight increase in his scoring production, based simply on getting more opportunities, but looking at the box score is an inaccurate way to see how he impacts a game.
Though if you’re interested in that type of thing, I recommend checking the box score to see what kind of shooting night the other’s team best guard had. If he has an ugly game, we’ll probably be thanking Matt Jones.