Saturday, April 03, 2021

Thank You, Herbert Jones

  In this mini-series of articles I’ll be offering homage to the players that we here at BAMAHOOPS.com and many other fans believe have helped forever change the culture of Alabama basketball. These players were major contributors as Alabama won the SEC Championship, the SEC Tournament Championship and reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004. 

 First up is Herbert Jones. Jones came in to Tuscaloosa as a somewhat late offer in Avery Jones’ signature class. Herbert was wiry and raw, yet outworked his teammates on day 1 and beyond. Though Jones struggled offensively at times during his Alabama career-he never let it effect his effort in the gym and the defensive end of the floor. He was the first one on the floor when there was a loose ball. Herbert typically drew the assignment of guarding the opposing teams best offensive threat...and loved it. Jones had many unforgettable moments in his Alabama career, but he began to garner national attention on the day that he completely shut down now Atlanta Hawk star Trey Young when he was a PG at Oklahoma. Alabama went on to win that day on its way to the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Jones’ remarkable effort on the defensive end was a major catalyst for that signature win. 

 While Jones was always known for bringing the lunch pail to work night in and night out, his game didn’t completely flourish offensively until this most recent season...his senior campaign. All of Herbert’s numbers made a jump and, not by coincidence, Alabama did as well. He was never quite known as a great FT shooter regardless of being responsible for one of the most iconic moments in the history of the program when an injured Herbert Jones managed to knock down two game clinching FTs against LSU with his off-hand while his shooting hand was in a cast. Though much was made of his missing a couple of late ones against UCLA, Jones managed to hit the gym this past summer and therefore post a 74% FT conversation rate during the 20-21 season. The same could be said for his 3 PT %. Having never been known as a threat behind the arc-Jones improved to a 35% 3 PT shooter this season and therefore forced defenders to respect his ability to shoot. So much so that it might’ve won Alabama the SEC Tournament Championship as LSU F Trendon Watford certainly seemed concern that Herb might shoot just before Jones blew by him for a clutch, banner winning layup. 

 The examples I provided only scratch the surface of what made Herbert Jones a player that helped transform Alabama into a national basketball name again. The truth of the matter is that Jones will be more remembered for the plays that never showed up on the stat sheet. More often than not, it was Herb wearing the coveted hard hat given out by Coach Nate Oats after each Alabama win. Herb easily set a school record for charges taken as he became synonymous with the hard hat identity. Coach Oats worked tirelessly to inspire a blue collar mentality into this program...and Herbert Jones will long be known as the embodiment of “Blue Collar Basketball.”

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