Sadly, today is the day that we probably say goodbye to Kevin Jones. I say this not because I hope the Mountaineers will lose, but because I think they’ll likely find a way to do so in the most excruciating way imaginable. That’s just how WVU does this season.
This is a shame. I can say this without hesitation: Kevin Jones might just have been the greatest Mountaineer of my lifetime. He was quieter that some of the team’s more revered players. Da’Sean Butler is the obviously candidate for having had a superior career, and he did have an amazing one, but I’m not certain a team ever had a player doing more individually with less assistance from his teammates. During a season in which teams knew that stopping Kevin Jones meant that the Mountaineers would largely grind to a halt, he was essentially unstoppable. We can talk about the double-doubles, despite the double teams. We can talk about the rebounds, despite the concerted efforts to stop him. We can talk about the performances, like his dismantling of a very good Kansas State team. Or we can simply sit back and reflect that Kevin Jones made one of the greatest Mountaineer careers ever out of a baseline jumper and a tenacious ability to get into position for the rebound.
I don’t mean to denigrate the man by writing that. He strayed to the three-point line at times and occasionally made those. He shot from the top of the key occasionally and made those too. His defense was never porous. But simply put, he found two things he could do really well and he made a career out of them. In fact, his only shortcomings as a Mountaineer emerged when he strayed from that simply baseline jumper and offensive rebounds game. Those were the moments that we got frustrated with him.
Sadly, his final year in Morgantown has gone underappreciated, both by the some fans who don’t seem to recognize just how good he was and by the nation at large (who whispered nary a peep when the undeserving Jae Crowder won the Big East Player of the Year despite producing worst statistical performances with considerably more talent around him). Such is life as a Mountaineer though.
If tonight really is his last, he ought to go out knowing that he was one of the school’s greatest players and even if he didn’t crack our all time top five (although he might, right?), he’s definitely a rock solid top ten player.