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Jamel Jones leads Suburban College South

Jemel Jones He was playing basketball with his brother Jamal in Chicago.

Jemel would win. But Jamal didn’t like this very much.

“He was a boxer,” Jemel said. “I would beat him and he would want to fight me. Then he would beat me in boxing.”

By the way, Jemel said that he was 10 years old at the time. His brother, who was five years older than him, played football for Simeon.

So when Jemel says, “No one can bully me on the field,” he has the training and stamina to back it up.

Jones, a 6-foot-10 sophomore guard from South Suburban College, continues to lead the NJCAA Division II in scoring with an average of 33.3 points. The Eisenhower graduate scored 50 or more points twice this season in a 124-58 victory over Bosco Institute; This includes scoring a program-record 56 points on Jan. 16 to go along with 12 assists, 9 rebounds and 4 steals.

SSC coach John Pigatti He welcomed the score, but also said excelling in other aspects of the game would allow Jones to move on to the next phase of his basketball career.

“There’s a lot of Jemel stuff in there,” Pigatti said. “We’re just trying to get rid of bad habits before it gets to the next level.

“He is a prolific scorer, but he also gets 9 rebounds and 6-7 assists per game. Against Kankakee (Feb. 1), he scored 36 points and made 22 shots. This is a good player. “This isn’t a jacker who scores 36 points and makes 36 shots.”

first class forward Quentin HeadyThe Hillcrest graduate, who averaged 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds and was second in the nation with a 64.8 shooting percentage, admires Jones’ abilities.

“He’s just a killer, dude,” Heady said. “He hits fadeaways. He dunks. “It gives us too much blame.”

Jemel Jones, a former Eisenhower favorite and now a sophomore at South Suburban College, takes the ball inside during a game against Kankakee on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. (Jeff Vorva/Daily Southtown)

Joining Olive-Harvey last season, Jones averaged 22.8 points, which ranked 11th nationally despite being 529th nationally in 18.2 minutes per game. He was named a second-team NJCAA Division II All-American.

However, due to a change of coach, Jones returned to SSC, where he once attended camp when he was just starting out in the sport.

After hitting a few open gyms over the summer, Jones was hooked.

“I knew something special was going to happen this season,” Jones said. “Coach Pigatti’s work ethic and knowledge of the game is very different.”

And now SSC (22-2) enters this week ranked No. 3 in the country. The Bulldogs are also continuing a 59-game winning streak on home soil in South Holland.

South Suburban freshman Quentin Heady, a former Hillcrest standout, fights through traffic to attempt a shot during a game against Kankakee on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024.  (Jeff Vorva/Daily Southtown)
South Suburban College freshman Quentin Heady, a former Hillcrest standout, fights through traffic to attempt a shot during a game against Kankakee on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. (Jeff Vorva/Daily Southtown)

Jones and Heady head up a squad rich with talent from the Southland. of southern holland Julius and Marlon Byrdformer Shepard standout Chris Harrison and former Hillcrest star Kenton Wright They are not only on the team, they also play important minutes.

“I knew some of these players when I came here,” Heady said. “So we already had some chemistry and that’s a good thing for the team.”

Players come and go quickly from college, but Jones is counting on Pigatti to help him find a four-year home.

For now, Jones is focused on SSC trying to become a national champion. He said that he likes basketball from a team perspective.

“I look at the bigger picture,” Jones said. “This is a team sport and it brings people together to win. It creates lifelong bonds and friendships.

“And funny. It keeps your body in shape. “A lot of positive things happen when you play basketball.”

Jeff Vorva is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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