Ideal ambassador: JC’s Jones on his way to Puerto RicoOften times in sports well-liked or admired athletes are referred to as “ambassadors.” Typically they’re gregarious, likeable people and usually good at what they do. Byron Jones qualifies in every category.
By: By Dave Selvig, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Often times in sports well-liked or admired athletes are referred to as “ambassadors.”
Typically they’re gregarious, likeable people and usually good at what they do.
Byron Jones qualifies in every category.
The Jamestown College basketball player, who scored over 1,100 points in his career, will be going to Puerto Rico in June as part of an NAIA all-star team with Athletes in Action, a Christian organization that helps spread the message of faith and charitable works across the globe.
For Jones it’s not just an opportunity to play more basketball, but a learning experience as well.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to learn more about Christian beliefs. I didn’t grow up going to church, so I want to know what I’ve been missing out on,” he said. “Stuff like this becomes more important the older you get.”
Working with others, particularly younger people, is nothing new to Jones. In fact, he’s a seasoned vet. His basketball camps, only growing in popularity, have been a hit.
His Byron Jones Basketball Academy is in its third full year. He’s conducted several clinics in and out of the Jamestown area. Next up is one in LaMoure on May 12-13.
Jones’s passion for working with youth is obvious and is fueled by his own childhood where attending things such as basketball camps really was not possible.
“When I was younger it wasn’t like we were poor or anything, but the money just had to go other places,” he said. “I wasn’t able to go to basketball camps or things like that so this is a great opportunity for me to give back to the community, and why our camps aren’t as expensive as some of the other ones.”
Jamestown College head men’s basketball coach Matt Murken will coach the team Jones plays on this summer. They’ll have just five practices to get ready for the games, but says having someone like Jones along will add to the experience.
“It will be really good for Byron to continue growing as a person and kind of get him out of his comfort zone,” Murken said. “He’s really matured in his time here. He’s very gifted in how he deals with people. He has a very dynamic personality and people are drawn to him and everyone knows how great he is with kids.:
Jones, Murken and the Athletes in Action team will spend time conducting camps for area youth and working in the community to go on top of playing some of the top teams in Puerto Rico.
“It should be a big challenge. We’re going to be playing some good teams, so I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.
Jones is no stranger to challenges.
When he was a freshman at JC, his best friend back in Glenarden, Md., was killed in an act of violence. His sophomore year he suffered a major knee injury and missed most of that season.
He overcame it all, though, and was a 3-time Dakota Athletic Conference selection, averaging 12.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.9 steals despite being generously listed at 5-foot-10.
“I’ve had a lot of great teammates and great coaches here and I’m very thankful for both,” he said. “They helped me become a better player and a better person.”
Jones started his career at the State University of New York (SUNY), but the coach that lured him there left. Jones also decided to leave, but many of the places he was looking to go wanted him to red-shirt. He preferred to play right away and then JC head coach Jeff Trumbauer offered him what he was looking for and the rest is history.
“I love Jamestown. This has been a great place for me,” Jones said. “In life sometimes you don’t know why something happens, but then another opportunity presents itself and that’s what happened.”
Jones plans to continue to run his camps — more information can be found at www.bjbasketballacademy.com — he’ll graduate with a degree in physical education from JC next month.
He’s looking to become a graduate assistant basketball coach, but has plenty to keep him busy in the meantime and Murken says whatever he does will end successfully.
“I think if your son or daughter turned out like Byron Jones you’d be pretty happy,” Murken said. “He’s doing the right things and making a positive difference.”
Note: To contribute to Byron Jones’s fund to help pay for his trip to Puerto go to www.give.ccci.org and enter 5660761 in the “Give a Gift” box or make checks payable to Athletes in Action and contact Jones at (301) 395-3742 to inform him of the gift. All proceeds go directly to trip expenses and helping Athletes in Action.
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org