Junior point guard Jones demands best from Robert Morris teammates
Velton Jones is the type of basketball player you could build a team around.
The Robert Morris junior point guard, a Philadelphia native, is tough, unselfish, hard-nosed and a leader.
In high school, Jones led Northeast Catholic to a Catholic League title. He's also carried the Colonials to several victories during his career, most recently hitting the game-winning 3-pointer to defeat Sacred Heart a week ago.
Jones makes everyone around him better, and if you don't follow his lead, he's not afraid to tell you about it.
So when Robert Morris (22-9) plays host to Monmouth (12-19) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Sewall Center in the opening round of the Northeast Conference tournament, Jones expects his teammates to play their best game.
"You have to prepare the right way and be ready to play in the game," Jones said. "It has to start in practice with communication and taking care of every little detail to a 'T.' You have to play hard to make the NCAA Tournament."
The Colonials defeated Monmouth twice this season (69-51 on Dec. 3, 81-73 in overtime Jan. 21), but Jones was a little shocked at how well the Seagulls handled NEC champion Long Island on Saturday, winning 106-78.
He's not about to take Monmouth lightly, especially after they had the Colonials down, 53-38, with 12:20 left in the teams' last meeting.
"I was a little bit surprised they put up that many points," Jones said. "Against us the second time, they made a lot of shots and they play extremely hard.
"They never give up; they could be down 40, and they're going to play hard. It's going to be a challenge; Monmouth is a very good team."
The 6-foot Jones earned his first All-NEC honor and enters the tournament leading the team in scoring (16.5 points per game), assists (133) and steals (60).
He became the 20th RMU player to join the 1,000-point club, and he had a career-high 38 points against James Madison. He scored 35 points and handed out six assists in the second meeting against Monmouth.
Jones has scored 512 points, which ranks 10th in the Robert Morris single-season record book, and set school single-season records for both free throws (175) and free-throw attempts (232).
His leadership doesn't go unnoticed by his coach.
"A lot of college basketball comes down to guys making plays or making shots," Toole said. "Velton is a guy who can get his own shot or recreate a shot for somebody else. That's an important aspect to any team when you have a guy can do that. It helps your offense.
"The intensity he plays with helps our team because his teammates can feed off of that. He's a critical piece to our success and to our program. A lot of the other coaches in the league agree with that."