Adison Jones rebuffed a defending national champion football team to walk on to a junior college basketball team.
That’s how much the Ignacio High School senior loves basketball.
Jones pledged his commitment to Otero Junior College in La Junta, on Monday in Ignacio but did not sign a National Letter of Intent, Otero head coach Houton Reed said.
“We have offered him a walk-on position,” Reed said in an email to The Durango Herald. “It is possible that he is receiving aid through our financial aid department that is not tied through athletic funds.”
The school he turned down? Defending NCAA Division II national champion CSU-Pueblo.
Why would someone pick Rattlers basketball over ThunderWolves football?
“I know if basketball doesn’t work out for me, the coach for CSU-Pueblo said there’s always a spot on their team for me if I want to play,” said Jones, son of Greg Jones and Latisha Taylor. “But basketball has always been my goal since I was young, to play (in college). once I got the opportunity to play basketball, I jumped on that.”
Jones’ love of basketball began early, and so did his promise. IHS head coach Chris Valdez saw his potential as a freshman.
“He had a stature about him even when he was younger,” Valdez said. “We knew that he would, being from the family he’s from.”
It was Jones, though, who worked beyond that stature to turn himself into a more complete player. He added dribbling skills and a 3-point shot to his polished post game and rebounding skills as his career moved on.
“He was a student of the game,” Valdez said. “He wasn’t really a guard; he wasn’t really a post. We had to play him at the post because we didn’t have anybody bigger than him.”
The Rattlers feature five players larger than Jones’ 6-4 frame, so he’ll have to adapt to playing more on the perimeter.
Once he decided to pursue college basketball, Jones had to figure out where. He narrowed his choices to Otero and Cochise College, another junior college in Arizona.
After touring the Rattlers’ facilities, Jones knew La Junta was the right place.
“The coach showed me around the school, and I really liked the facilities,” Jones said. “In the past, they’ve had winning records. That sealed it for me.”
As did the program’s propensity for sending athletes to the NCAA. Six of Otero’s recent graduates are going on to play basketball after their two years at the school. Four of them will compete at the Division I level, while Josh Blaylock and Kain Lucero will join Fort Lewis College next season.
“I’m trying to play beyond (Otero),” Jones said. “There should be opportunities if I put in the work.”
Reed and his staff are willing to help Jones get there.
“We think his best basketball is still in front him,” Reed said.