Finally healthy, Jarred Jones is John Carroll boys' spark

Junior forward has bounced back from surgeries to do it all for No. 2 Patriots

  • Completely healthy for the first time in his high school career, John Carroll forward Jarred Jones is averaging 16.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.4 steals and two assists this season.
Completely healthy for the first time in his high school career,… (Colby Ware / Photo for The…)
February 14, 2011|By Glenn Graham, The Baltimore Sun

At this time last year, Jarred Jones was hurting.

It wasn't the knee he tore up playing summer basketball. Or the stress fracture in his shin, which ended up needing bone marrow from his hip to fix.

The surgeries and demanding rehabilitation were successfully behind him, and there was a chance he could make a late-season contribution to the John Carroll boys basketball team. But his hopes were dashed when the doctor told him not quite yet.

So Jones had to stay on the bench, helping his teammates and coaches any way he could — except for the way he knew he could pitch in the most. It was painful.

"When you lose and you can't do anything about it," he says, pausing, "that's really tough."

To say that Jones, now a 6-foot-7 do-it-all junior forward, has made up for lost time is the understatement of the area's basketball season. Completely healthy for the first time in his high school career, he's averaging 16.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.4 steals and two assists this season and doing whatever the team needs at a given time to win.

John Carroll was good last season, going 19-8 with dynamic guards Malcolm McMillan and Ronald Scott and an athletic cast around them. This season — with the group largely intact and further bolstered by the addition of Jones — the No. 2 Patriots have been dominant.

In completing the regular season with a 27-2 mark, they went 11-1 in both the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference and Baltimore Catholic League to earn the top seed for both playoffs. The Patriots' quest to bring home championships begins Wednesday, when they host McDonogh in the MIAA semifinals.

Think Jones is a little fired up?

"I've been playing basketball my whole life, so sitting out the whole year was a struggle. Coming back, I just love the game that much more," he said. "It's different because I haven't been fully healthy like this in awhile. So now I can see what I can really do and everybody can see what I can do."

Without hesitation, John Carroll coach Tony Martin said Jones can do everything on the basketball court. When opponents guard him with a bigger player, Jones takes him out on the perimeter. When it's a smaller defender, he handles him inside.

Lean and fluid, he scores inside, outside and on the go; passes; rebounds at both ends; blocks shots; and had 10 steals in a game this season. On defense, he has guarded every position.

"His versatility is a major weapon," Martin said. "It's amazing because not only is he talented, but he's a glue guy. It's a lot easier to coach when you have a guy on your side with that versatility."

As for playing against Jones? That's not so easy.

"He's absolutely been a difference-maker for them," Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchey said. "They have the senior guards that have been through the battles, and they also have some size and other athletes. But a team needs that third guy that can score points, and he's done that, along with many other things. You can see how much difference one player can make for a team, and that's not to take away anything from their other players. He just brings so much to the table and allows the others to do what they do best."

Jones grabbed a basketball — albeit a Nerf one with a hoop that attached to a window — shortly after his first baby bottle.

His father, Mike, was a power forward at the University of Hartford and coached at Harford Community College when Jarred was growing up. His mother, Sanciarhea, played volleyball in college and is an assistant girls basketball coach at Aberdeen High. His sisters Brionna, 15, and Stephanie, 12, along with younger brother Jordon, 10, can't get enough basketball either.

When Jarred was 7 and playing in a recreational league, he played his heart out in the team's last game, hoping to help it to its first win. When his team lost at the buzzer, he went home and cried.

It was a telling sign for his father.

"I told him: 'If you want to control your destiny in the game of basketball, you need to put time into it. You need to work on it, and it will be hard work. And if you're willing to do that, then I'll help you,'" Mike Jones said.

Three times a week, Mike Jones would take his son to the track at Havre de Grace High for conditioning, and then they would move on to the outside basketball court for drills. Jarred also would tag along to his father's games and practices at Harford Community College and watch game tapes at home.

"He was always willing to put in the time, and I made him do more than what he'd ever done before," Mike Jones said. "Then the positives started to come out of it as he continued to play because he could see that the work he was putting in was benefiting him on the court. And the losses went away, too."

This season, John Carroll opened with 15 straight wins before a setback to Imhotep Charter (Pa.) during a holiday tournament in New York on Dec. 29. They rattled off 12 more victories before a regular-season-ending loss to Mount St. Joseph on Friday after already having clinched the top seed in both leagues.

Jones, a "B" student who has drawn interest from Washington, Oregon State and Richmond, with more to follow, is confident the Patriots can keep the wins coming through the playoffs.

"Everybody has the same goal, and everybody understands what they have to do to reach our goals," he said. "With some other teams, players want to step up and be the leader or the guy that wants to score all the points. But everybody on this team knows their role and what needs to be done."

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