AUSTIN — Shaka Smart and the Longhorns reeled in their second big-time recruit for the 2019 class when Bahamas-native (and current Brewster Academy standout) Kai Jones pledged to Texas this evening.
Jones, a 6-foot-10 center, who saw his stock rise dramatically (more on that in a bit) over the last five months, chose the Longhorns over offers from dozens of schools across the country and heavy interest from Florida State, Syracuse and Baylor, among others.
·Tremendous athlete with burst and speed in the open floor and attacking the rim
·Long arms on a legit 6’10” frame
·Emerging skill set as a one v. one player on the offensive end
·Comfortable stroke that should get smoother with strength training
·Has the timing/lift/length to be a rim protector
·Chases rebounds well with timing/instincts
·Motivated and high energy on both ends of the floor
·Wants to be good
·Needs to add muscle
·Has a ways to go to be the kind of forward prospect that his talent suggests
·Plays too high with the dribble, especially for somebody who wants minutes at the wing
·Needs to work to make his shot mechanics more continuous
·Will be important to ascertain his actual best position, as opposed to the square peg, round hole question
2019 Class Perspective
Texas taking Jones at this juncture probably means a few things…
1. Shaka feels comfortable that he can push the number to four in terms of open scholarship spots
2. The staff believes Sims could have a good enough year where declaring is a legit option
3. Jones’ commitment is awesome, but the Longhorns still need a shooter/scorer
4. Texas will continue to recruit Will Baker and Jaden McDaniels as hard as they can until both guys sign (wherever that ends up being)
This commitment serves as yet another data point that Shaka has a defined recruiting modus operandi: A) identify your top two or three guys early; B) build the strongest relationship possible with those players; C) identify the best late-risers in the upcoming class as early as you can; D) land said best late-risers.
Hard to argue the logic. That has landed Texas Andrew Jones, Jericho Sims, Courtney Ramey, Donovan Williams and, now, Kai Jones under those circumstances.
Jones has the potential to be as good as any of them, but he’s also arguably got the most work to do to realize that potential. He wants to be a combo forward, and his athleticism will give him that opportunity, but he’s a developmental project at that spot and Texas is going to have plenty of playmakers/wings already on the roster for him to compete with.