By Roy & Harv Schmidt
After debating the topic for much of the season, we hope that everyone is listening when we state the following comment emphatically and without hesitation. Simeon's Lazeric Jones is a D1 player and is worthy of a scholarship. If he hadn't proven that already, he certainly did so today with his performance in the Class 3A semifinals in Peoria.
In Simeon's hard-fought 51-46 victory over Champaign Central, Jones was undoubtedly the difference in the game down the stretch. The 6'1 senior guard scored 14 points in the contest, including 10 in the all-important fourth quarter. However, it was not Jones' scoring that was the story as far as we are concerned. What we found to be most impressive was Jones' ability to get to the basket at will and the outstanding job both he and back court teammate Kenyon Smith did of creating turnovers as a result of their defensive pressure when they were both in the game.
While there is no question that the Simeon roster is loaded with talent, we believe that based on both his season performance and overall skill set that Jones is Simeon's third best player behind 6'9 center Stan Simpson and Smith. In today's game vs. Champaign Central the argument could be made that Jones was his team's best player.
What makes Jones an intriguing prospect is that he has a high degree of versatility. Not only does he get to the hoop, but he also has the ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc and when he doesn't finish or get to the foul line he is also capable of driving and kicking the ball to the open man. It is quite clear that Jones is a player who is extremely coachable and that he has bought into Simeon head coach Robert Smith's system. In fact, coach Smith has said that nobody has been able to prevent Jones from getting to the basket this season other than Kenyon Smith in practice. While that may seem like a heavy statement, based on what we have seen we aren't about to argue.
Jones is being recruiting extremely hard at the D2 level by Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI and has also received interest from D1 schools such as Eastern Kentucky, Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne, Cleveland State, and Niagara, although none have offered as of yet. One gets the feeling that could very well change upon the conclusion of the Class 3A state finals.
While most people can readily name all of the great high school players to come through Simeon such as Ben Wilson, Nick Anderson, Deon Thomas, Bobby Simmons and Derrick Rose, let us not forget that there have been several other unheralded players at Simeon who fell through the cracks and have either gone on to enjoy successful college careers or are contributing at D1 programs as we speak. Ervin Small, Bryant Notree, Cameron Echols, Calvin Brock and Anthony Newell all immediately come to mind. We believe that when the dust clears Lazeric Jones has a chance to be included in that later group. With that being said, we believe that now is the time for some D1s to step up to the plate and offer Jones a scholarship.
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