Verdell Jones: Added strength should help on both ends of floor

Verdell Jones’ self-critiques tend to get more biting the further he is from his last basketball season and the closer he gets to the next one. That apparently hasn’t changed.

The senior guard had a harsh assessment for his work ethic Wednesday, saying he didn’t think he did enough beyond what was required.

“I think personally I just didn’t work on my game enough besides practice,” Jones said.

It’s evident even visually that he did this offseason. He was listed at 176 pounds in last season’s post-season media guide, but he said he’s up to about 198, and it’s obvious that he isn’t making that up. His upper body and arms look significantly larger, and he appears to have finally filled out his long skinny 6-foot-5 frame.

He said a part of the reason he was able to do that was the knee injury he battled last year, which kept him off the floor for the early part of the summer and kept him from burning off weight.

“Me being out for the first few weeks of the summer helped me put the weight on,” Jones said. “Just lifting four times a week, I gained about 15 pounds and I’m about 198, 199 right now. It feels good. It’s not heavy weight. At first it was kind of heavy, but I’m used to it now. … I feel like my explosion’s a lot better. I’m getting to the basket a lot quicker. My first step is a lot quicker. I’m jumping, taking hits and still finishing, so this strength has really helped. I’m starting to get more in my legs, which makes me more explosive as well.”

That should obviously help defensively, Jones said, which he regarded as the biggest deficiency he needed to work on in the offseason.

“We lost a great defender last year in Jeremiah,” Jones said. “Someone has to take that role. Me being a senior and getting stronger and bigger, I just want to complete my game defensively. … I’m trying to guard the best offensive players every game. One day I’ll guard Christian (Watford) a bigger player. One day I’ll guard (Jordan Hulls). I’ll guard (Victor Oladipo), I’m just trying to guard everyone who has different attributes and try to stop them. I’m getting through screens better with my size and just feeling real good.”

Jones said the additional size should also help on offense. Though Jones was second on the team in scoring with 12.5 points per game last season, he was one of the least efficient players on the team and committed more turnovers (83) than anyone else on the team. Jones said he spent the first half of the offseason doing a lot of ball-handling drills with his father. The strength helped his ability to control the basketball and he said that should help everything else.

“My ball-handling wasn’t as sharp as it needed to be,” Jones said. “My shooting was suspect. That’s something I’ve really worked on. I went home for six weeks with my dad. We did an hour of ball-handling every day. We did heavy ball with bands on my arms. Just trying to get everything quicker, stronger and faster and more controlling. That right there has made me more comfortable with the ball. I can make better plays. I can see stuff forming because I don’t have to worry about where the ball is going to¬† be. It’s made me a lot better.”


  1. Yea, yea, yea….I’ll believe when I see it. I’m thinking same Verdell, same result. I hope he proves me wrong!!

  2. Every year I hear about the bigger, quicker VJ3. Every year I see a slow moving player out of position defensively and not able to keep his man in front of him. Fourth times a charm.

  3. I’d be surprised if he was weighing 176 at the end of last season. 6’5″ 176 is REALLY skinny. VJ wasnt that last year. Frosh sure, even soph, but he put some on last summer too. I’d guess he played last year around 185.

    Regardless, a 100% focused Verdell could be a heck of a ball player. I’ve always thought there was no reason he shouldnt be a player that excels defensively and turns that into momentum on the other side of the court. It has to start defensively with him though. That’s key. Just chucking up shots and not moving laterally on defense is not acceptable. You are Senior now man. It’s time to man up and own it. You can do it and we all know it because we have seen glimpses. Do it.

  4. I remain optimistic. I personally like VJ3 as a student athlete and proud of him staying in school for 4 years, graduating, and playing basketball. Good luck your senior season Verdell and good jib self analyzing, accepting, and doing something about it!

  5. Good to hear, but kind of pathetic that it took him this long to figure it out. The good players see it after their freshman maybe even sophmore year.

  6. Will it help with better shot selection and stupid decisions with the ball in his hand? How about helping him so he’s not the worst defender in the Big 10?

  7. thanks verdell for being one of the key rebuilding blocks for IU bball.don’t pat attention to all the negative comments.I hope you have a great senior year..

  8. Whether its basketball or football you hear similar things about players year after year, but rarely are things that different…Improvement maybe or even yes…but huge impact player NO.

  9. Playing tough D is mostly mental. Better decision making for reducing TO’s is mental. Adding strength ain’t going to insure any improvement in either of his two biggest deficiencies. Now if all this work has sharpened his awareness of his on court actions, non-actions and reactions then he may perform with some improvement. I’ll pretend I am from Missouri, he will have to-show me.

  10. Amen Rob. If he keeps jacking up shots early and doesn’t guard anyone -he needs the bench. Extra weight may help finishing at the basket, but it takes teamwork to dish it rather than shoot and heart to guard people– time will tell but what we have seen from both Jones and Pritchard is probaly what we will get.

  11. Until he understandes that the numbers on the scoreboard are more important than the ones next to his name he should be a cheerleader. If he, like Rivers, can understand that he is NEVER EVER going to play in “the league” and become a role player and a better defender he will be a benifit to this team.

  12. In addition, it would might be a good idea for him to pass the ball to his own team and not dribble it off his leg.

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