Kevin Jones has been instrumental in West Virginia’s run to this year’s Final Four, averaging 13.7 points and 7.2 rebounds during the season. And in WVU’s first four wins of the Tournament, the 6-8 sophomore power forward/center has been good for over 15 points and 8 boards a game.
Kevin has agreed to check in with Dime during the most hectic week of his career to give us a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like reaching the pinnacle of college basketball:
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We had practice from 12:30 to 3:30 (Wednesday). It didn’t go as long as it usually does: We basically prepared defensively for some stuff Duke might do, then got some shots up.
Then there was a little send-off for us going to Indianapolis. They had a whole bunch of people in the Coliseum and they introduced us one-by-one. The seniors and the coaches spoke. It was cool. It was kind of like a Midnight Madness atmosphere. It’s Spring Break right now, so it was like everybody who’s still in town showed up just to say “bye” before we left.
The flight was about an hour. We usually charter all our flights, unless we’re going somewhere close like Ohio, then we might drive. We got to Indianapolis around 8 or 9 o’clock, ate, and watched film. Curfew is at 11 p.m., so right now I’m here with my roommate, Danny Jennings. So far it just feels like any regular road trip; I mean, it’ll probably hit us tomorrow (Thursday) when we’re doing all the Final Four activities and seeing the stadium and everything.
We’ve got breakfast at 9:15 in the morning, then we’re gonna go over to a local college and practice there for an hour, then go to the stadium where we’re playing and practice for an hour and a half. Then there’s some kind of banquet that all the teams are going to. Coach (Bob Huggins) said we should be out until like 7 o’clock, then we’ll have some downtime after that.
Dime: When you’re on the road, what do you do with that downtime?
Kevin Jones: Me? I sleep as much as possible. I might watch some basketball on TV or something. My teammates, they’ll usually go to the nearest mall wherever we’re at, or just be in each other’s rooms playing video games. I’ll do that, too, but I like to get some sleep. We all enjoy each other’s company, so it’s fun.
Some people might have only recently seen West Virginia play and don’t know much about you guys. Who is the leader on this team?
Da’Sean Butler. He’s the senior, the captain. He’s really vocal on the court. He’s basically the heart and soul of the team. Everything runs through him.
Who is the most talented player?
I’d say Devin Ebanks, because he’s so athletic and gifted at 6-9. He can handle the ball, create his own shot, and he’s a very good passer.
Who is the funniest guy?
John Flowers or Truck (Darryl Bryant). Those two always have jokes. They’re always saying something funny and making everybody laugh. It’s cool because they can always lighten the moment no matter how serious it is.
Speaking of Truck, what do you know as far as his status with the foot injury?
I’m not sure. I mean, he’s able to move on it and kinda run on it a little bit more than he could before, but I’m not sure how much he’d be able to play because our offense requires hard cuts and running a lot. I hope he can play, but the verdict is still out on that right now. It’s a whole bunch of “maybes.” I know as a competitor he wants to play, so it’s killing him inside not knowing if he can.
Who is the smartest guy on the team?
I’d say Cam Thoroughman. He’s a smart guy. Basketball-wise, he knows all the plays, sometimes better than the coaches. He just pays attention to detail all the time.
Who is the hardest worker?
Probably Da’Sean. There hasn’t been one time that I came in the gym and haven’t seen him there. He’s the first one getting extra shots up; that’s why he’s had so much success.
The freshman from Turkey, Deniz Kilicli, he didn’t get a lot of PT during the season but made a big impact against Washington in the Sweet Sixteen.
He’s good. It’s good when we bring him off the bench because it’s like nobody has a scouting report on him, but he might be our best low-post scorer. He just knows how to use his body and he’s very athletic.
And Joe Mazzulla came up big against Kentucky.
Joe just brings toughness. He’s kind of the pit bull on the team. He’s small, but he’s strong and very aggressive.
You said that you guys were motivated by people writing you off before the Kentucky game. Have you been following the way they’re predicting the Duke game?
Yeah. I think there was some poll that said all 50 states had us winning. But we know what it feels like to be the underdog, so we can’t let up even if we are favored. We still got a chip on our shoulder because we still feel like we haven’t gotten the respect we deserve yet.
Previous Diary entries:
– Getting Ready for Duke