For Calique Jones, it’s a question he’s been asked quite frequently in recent years.
Do you believe you were overlooked by Division I colleges coming out of high school?
As usual, the 18-year-old Jones’ response is virtually the same.
“Yes I thought I was overlooked because I’m a good player especially at the point guard position,” Jones told Bleacher Report during a recent interview.
To get a full understanding of why Jones contends his immense basketball skills were overlooked by college scouts as a prep standout, look no further than the strides he’s made in recent years.
For starters, Jones first began playing competitive hoops when he was five years old. Consequently, his mother, Mia Crow, helped his to enhance his mechanics by signing him up camps and, ultimately, an AAU team in the Pittsburgh area.
He is widely remembered for having played for the Dejuan Blair All-Stars AAU squad and evolving as a standout at Obama Academy of International Studies.
Today, Jones is a freshman at Bethany College in West Virginia. The oldest private college in the state, Bethany has a student body of approximately 1,030 and is a Division III institution that is a member of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (or ECAC).
Though playing basketball for a Division III private school isn’t as glamorous as the putting his skills on display at the Division I ranks, many believe the sky’s the limit for a speedy floor general such Jones.
Among the reasons is that this vibrant, streaky 6’ 0” point man is armed with the ability to create his own shoot much like a swingman and has demonstrated time and again the ability to become a facilitator on the floor.
In a nutshell, as Jones goes, so does his supporting cast.
“I honestly do think I can have an impact on this team,” Jones said. “My coach and I really close yet but soon we’ll be really close.”
While Jones continues to establish a solid rapport with the Bethany coaching staff as well as become acclimated to college life, he acknowledges his primary focus is to concentrate on academics and polish his skills as fall preseason practices loom.
To his credit, many have likened Jones’ skills to NBA stars Derrick Rose and John Wall, in large part because of his immense quickness, scoring and ball-handling ability, not to mention his keen ability to penetrate to the basketball.
“Those two are my top point guard that I base myself off of,” Jones said of Rose and Walls. “I believe I play just like both of them from quickness to natural speed to shooting…all of that. I work hard to be like them and I actually got some compliments saying that my speed reminds people of D-Rose.”
So how exactly did Jones wound of falling through the cracks and going virtually unnoticed by major college scouts?
“My grades weren’t close enough to get accepted into the (Division I) school so they kind of just backed off if that makes sense,” said Jones, assessing why he sensed he was passed up by bigger schools. “I have to work extremely hard…no slacking at all.”
Among those whom have supported Jones intensely as he prepares to play his first collegiate game November 15 when the Bison host Frostburg State is his mother.
Like many of Jones’ peers, Crow senses the bigger schools past up a golden opportunity to acquire a true freshman.
“Calique was a major factor in the success of his high school team as well as his AAU team,” Crow said. “He competed last year on a national level, played tough teams in front of many top Division I coaches, and he did really well. Calique is a born leader and dedicated to the sport of basketball and he would be such an asset to any team he plays for.”
With preseason camps just days away, Jones said is expects to assume a key role and contribute immediately for a Bethany team he hopes will compete an ECAC title this season.
Although he acknowledged that Bethany was his “last option” during a recruiting process in which he generated interest from UMass, South Florida, Norfolk State, and Robert Morris, Jones said his primary focus is to do what is necessary to help his the Bison excel.
As for a basketball future at the professional level, Jones would be the first to tell you that is on his list of short-term goals.
How else to explain why he’s drawn comparisons to Rose and Walls?
“Playing professionally will be important,” Jones said. “I just want to make sure my mom is going to be good, my brothers will be good and my friends.”
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson also covers the NBA’s Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.