THE MENTAL GAME: Aldine More Prepared In Second Year Under Jones
IT'S YEAR TWO OF THE RONALD JONES-ERA AT ALDINE, AFTER COMING OVER FROM DAVIS WHERE HE WAS AN ASSISTANT.
The 'Stangs went 5-23 as he implemented his program. Now, his players are more comfortable in the system and are ready to just play.
"Last year, we had to concentrate on teaching my philosophy and culture," Jones said. "We had three transfers who were new also. This year we have been able to work more on enhancing our fundamentals. We are so far ahead of where we were a year ago.
"We can only go up from here," he said. "We are more athletic and able to finish at the rim this year. We will be in position to surprise some people. We have the talent; we just need to win the mental game. We need to believe more in ourselves and gain some confidence."
The heartbeat of the team is senior point guard Brayln Thomas, a second-teamer in 2019.
"He's my eyes on the court," he said. "He's a floor general – a true leader. As he goes, the team goes."
Thomas will be mentoring his protégé along the way – Jace Jones, a freshman point guard. Jones is the coach's son, who will take over the program for years to come.
"He's always played with older guys," coach Jones said. "I'm listening to my former mentors in coaching who all say – if you are going to bring up a youngster, you have to play him.
"Jace has a great basketball IQ and skill set. He just has to get in the weight room to be able to handle the rigors of the varsity level."
The young Jones looks forward to the challenge of his freshman season.
"I'm just trying to be a sponge," he said. "I'm learning from Brayln to just keep playing. When I make a mistake, just go on to the next play.
Also handling the backcourt duties will be Draylon Haynes and Laterrius Winters as the shooters. The posts will be Reginald Smith and Ja'Kobi Terry.
"As the leader, we just can't listen to the outside critics," Thomas said. "You can't teach it; you just have to play. We have to lock in, build within the team and be confident."