With six key players from last season's NCAA Tournament team out the door, Christian Jones is one of three hold-overs from the Steve Lavin era that will provide experience for a program that features nine new additions.
Jones, a Texas native who averaged 1.2 points in 6.2 minutes per game, will be given a fresh start to earn minutes off the bench and contribute as a red shirt junior.
How He Got Here
Before committing to St. John's in 2012, Jones played one year of postgraduate basketball for IMG Academy in Florida. Jones averaged 12.0 points and 5.0 rebounds while helping a team filled with eight future-student athletes post a 38-2 record in 2011-2012.
As a freshman, Jones played in 24 games (seven starts), but only averaged 2.5 points, 1.2 boards, 9.4 minutes. He had his biggest games against Marquette on March 9 (10 points and a career high six boards) and against St. Joseph's in the first round of the NIT where he dropped two points, two blocks and two rebounds off the bench.
The 6'7" forward redshirted during the 2014-15 season due to an undisclosed reason but was back on the court last year on for a roster that was expected to be a strong contender in the Big East. Jones made 20 appearances and played solidly in early season games against Fordham and Franklin Pierce.
But that wasn't enough for the Texas native as he struggled to find consistent playing time in what Lavin labeled as a six man rotation.
What He Brings To The Table
Jones has the capability of playing a reserve role and providing quality minutes in the front court behind younger, less experienced players Yankuba Sima and Darien Williams. He doesn't have the length of Sima or the floor-stretching ability of Williams but he does have the potential to be a solid rebounder.
"I'm just trying to get on the floor," Jones said at St. John's Media Day. "Whatever I have to do to get on the floor. Whether it's scoring, rebounding, assisting or helping the newer guys."
Jones is athletic, tough, aggressive and has been working on his mid-range jump shot, but he may struggle to defend small lineups. He lacks the speed and quickness in order to consistently match-up with wing players or stretch fours and that will also effect his status in Mullin's up-tempo offense.
Where He Fits In
While Jones may not always start, he could see major minutes off the bench because of his rebounding, activity and experience. He also gives the Johnnies a different dimension as a undersized, athletic big man.
Again, if he improves his mid-range jumper and is more physical defensively that could give him the upper hand on another returnee, sophomore Amar Alibegovic, in the front court rotation.