Emil Jones on shot: ‘Personally, it’s No.1’

Published 10:11 pm Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Two days removed from Emil Jones’ game-winning jump shot against Mississippi State, the Troy senior guard was still receiving phone calls about his heroic moment. Jones says it was the biggest shot he’s hit in his career, but it was a shot that wasn’t planned.

Troy head coach Don Maestri had drawn up a play during a timeout, but it wasn’t designed to go to Jones.

“(Jones) wasn’t having a great game, he was shooting about 30 percent,” Maestri said. “He came up to me and said ‘Coach, I’ve got to have it’. I told them to scratch everything we just said. Get the ball into Emil’s hands and let him take the shot.”

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With a double-pump near the free-throw line, Jones lofted a 16-footer and as the ball sank through the net, the 5,120 in attendance erupted as the clock ticked down to 1.6 seconds.

“They put it on YouTube that same night so a lot of people saw it there and I got a lot of phone calls,” Jones said. “Personally, it’s No. 1. With the new arena, Mississippi State, packed arena, it should be a big shot for years to come.”

Maestri had eluded to Jones’ worth early on, saying that the Hattiesburg, Miss., native had a chance to have a special season for the Trojans.

“I think Emil Jones is going to be our best player,” Maestri said. “I say that because he has proven it in the past in real games. He has a knack of making important shots and there is a difference in just being a good shooter and making a shot under pressure. He’s shown he can make shots under pressure.”

Jones was a three-sport athlete at North Forrest High School where he played with current Troy football offensive lineman Andrew Phillips. Jones and Phillips made their way to Pearl River Community College where Jones starred at quarterback before opting to concentrate on basketball his senior season.

As a member of Pearl River’s basketball team, Jones played for assistant coach Doug Branson, who is now the head coach at Pike County High School just 10 miles south of Troy’s campus.

Aside from teammates and coaches, Branson was one of the first to congratulate Jones after the game.

“He’s just like family,” Jones said. “He’s always been there for me.”

While there is a lot of basketball for Jones yet to play, he has humbly thought about what the shot against Mississippi State meant to the program and how long the memory of that shot might live.

“It will be a great thing if, then years down the road, people are still mentioning my name because of that shot,” Jones said.