With 4:50 remaining in the third quarter, a dream year could have come to a screeching halt for senior point guard Madison Jones (Raleigh, N.C./Ravenscroft) who picked up his fourth foul in the 3-A private schools state championship game.
With so much riding on the moment, Jones decided to challenge a shot he had no business being near.
“I knew as soon as I jumped they were going to call a foul,” Jones said. “I knew I shouldn’t have did it. I should have just let it go.” That single split-second decision could wind up being the only questionable choice of his entire senior season.
Behind Jones’ 22 points and strong contributions from juniors Anton Gill (Raleigh, N.C./Ravenscroft) and Marcus Bryan (Raleigh, N.C./Ravenscroft), Kevin Billerman’s team defeated Greensboro Day for its first state championship since the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series with Mike Schmidt as their third baseman.
The fall signing period came and went. American University received a visit and Jones had a decision to make: sign or play out his senior season? Regarded as a strong mid-level prospect, Jones opted to pass on signing, roll the dice and gamble on himself.
“I’m not going to say I didn’t have the schools I really wanted coming at me but I was thinking I would have a great year,” Jones said. “I saw the way I was playing when the signing period was coming and how much I was working and I knew I was going to have a good year and I knew my team was going to have a good year. I thought if I waited I’d have more options.”
Richmond coaches went three deep for one of his playoff games and the Spiders are hot on his trail. Seton Hall and Nebraska are programs he’d like to visit. East Carolina, Georgia Tech, Northeastern, American and Mercer are interested.
Jones’ gamble is going to pay off largely because his approach to his season, plus the success his team had helped transform his recruitment. “Everything was different (this year). I wasn’t letting anybody slack, no matter what. Me growing up as a better leader helped too.”
Billerman agrees. “Madison became the best defensive point guard in the area; maybe the state. He changed us.”
Now it’s time for Jones to change his status from undecided to committed. Next up is taking his visits and then playing in the Jordan Brand Regional game April 14. The all-state recruit will be ready.
“I think I can play at any level, especially after this,” Jones said following the state title game. “Every kid wants to play at the high-major but whatever is the best fit for me, that’s where I want to go but I think I can play with any guards.”