Damian Jones may be the best center in the SEC next season - even if Kentucky brings back their entire roster for another bite at the apple.
That's a lofty expectation, but few players in the NCAA showed the fifth gear that Jones unleashed once he got angry. The sophomore would tamp his frustrations down and ignite them in a hail of musket fire that swatted every shot out of the Commodore airspace, using his aggression to become a lockdown defender in the paint. While that excitement often tangled up his offensive game, it also gave college basketball fans a glimpse at just how good Damian Jones can be.
After scoring in double-digits in 19 of the first 20 games of the season, he finished the year by failing to score 10 points or more in six of the 'Dores final 15 contests. While that may lead stat-seekers to criticize his play, those numbers actually pinpoint Jones's unselfish play and dedication to making this team better. Strangely enough, Vandy often performed worse when their center was taking more shots in the paint. The Commodores went 8-10 this season when he attempted 10 or more field goals. That suggests that this team's balance - especially late in the season when Wade Baldwin IV and Matthew Fisher-Davis sprung to life - was a much bigger asset than Jones's scoring around the rim.
Jones thrived on his own, but he truly excelled when his teammates rose up to give him support on the wings. Let's take a look at the rising sophomore's 35 games in 2014-15.