Prairie View senior Tyler Jones is at the top of his game just in time for postseason play.
“I would say the last two games are two of the better games Tyler has played all year,” Prairie View coach Joseph Waller said. “He's scoring the ball better and blocking the ball better. This is a good time to be stepping up.”
Jones made two key free throws with seven seconds remaining and ended the game with a breakaway dunk at the buzzer as the Spartans trimmed Riverdale 52-49 on Tuesday night. He finished the game with 15 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots.
In Thursday night's regular season finale, Jones put up 17 points, grabbed seven rebounds and batted down seven shots as the Spartans downed River Oaks 49-40 to clinch second place in MAIS District 3-2A.
“I think Tyler's just starting to catch up,” Waller said. “I think he's more comfortable with what we're doing than he was early in the year.”
Jones earned All-District honors as a sophomore, before deciding not to play last season.
Waller, the Spartans' second-year coach, encouraged the 6-2 forward/center to rejoin the team for his senior year.
“I told him I felt like he would regret it later on if he didn't play,” Waller said. “I'm glad he decided to play. He's helped us out, for sure.”
Jones averaged 12.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots during the regular season.
BDE: When did you start playing basketball?
Tyler Jones: I played on a Little League team in Beekman during my third grade year. Coach (Heath) Murry and coach (Weldon) Fitch were our coaches.
BDE: What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of basketball?
Jones: My least favorite part is the practices.
My favorite part is winning close games.
BDE: Why did you decide not to play last year?
Jones: I just needed a break, but I'm glad I played this year.
It took a pretty good while to shake off the rust, but I'm starting to catch back up.
BDE: What is it going to take for the Spartans to put together a postseason run?
Jones: We have to do a better job of blocking out and rebounding and we need to cut down on our turnovers.
BDE: What are your strengths & weaknesses?
Jones: My strengths are playing down low and shooting jump shots.
My weaknesses are my 3-pointers and blocking out.
Page 2 of 2 - BDE: Do you have a pregame ritual?
Jones: I say a little prayer before I take the court, then we do our pregame chant.
BDE: Who is going to be a player to watch for the Spartans next year?
Jones: Dylan Carroll. I think he's going to come back strong next year (from knee surgery). We've missed him this year.
BDE: Tell us about your first dunk.
Jones: We were playing UCA (Union Christian) at home and it was on a fast break. It was a huge adrenaline rush.
BDE: Do you have a favorite hunting and fishing story?
Jones: I went duck hunting with Hunter Lewis and Evan Bordelon at upper Ouachita one morning. We had all the decoys set up and ready by 5:30 and we could still see the stars in the sky. All of a sudden, it started turning pitch black. Then it started to rain real hard. We started picking up the decoys and ran all the way back to the truck as fast as we could. As soon as we got back to the truck, it quit raining.
BDE: What are you going to miss the most about playing high school basketball?
Jones: All of my teammates.
BDE: What are your future plans?
Jones: I plan to join the Air Force, then I plan on going to college and doing something in agri-business.
BDE: How did you become interested in the Air Force?
Jones: The Air Force has good benefits and I just feel like it's something I need to do.
BDE: How did you become interested in agriculture?
Jones: I started working for Justin Turner, checking the fields for bugs during the summer. I've worked for Keith Smith for a long time and he's always let me drive tractors. I just like being outside.