DeVante’ Jones has been a lightning rod for the Michigan Wolverines so far this season. He came to Ann Arbor with admittedly unrealistic expectations from the fans. When early season struggles hit, many yearned for Frankie Collins to take over the starting role. Through it all, Jones kept working on his craft and has quietly improved every single game.
Jones made several life changes behind the scenes. He also reached out to Zavier Simpson for advice on how to be a point guard at Michigan. It’s easy to see the correlation from these events as Jones has undoubtedly become a better passer and limited his turnovers as the season has gone on.
On Saturday, Jones scored 13 points. More importantly, nine of those 13 points were from behind the three-point line as he finished a perfect 3-of-3 from deep. He is now shooting 7-of-19 on the season from three, good for the third-highest percentage on the team behind only Zeb Jackson (3-for-6) and Terrance Williams (9-for-24). He also notched six assists to only one turnover.
Juwan Howard had this to say about Jones’ game against Southern Utah on Saturday:
I saw a guy that was not overthinking it. Was able to take advantage of what the defense gave him. There were times when they went under on screens and he didn’t second-guess himself, just sat in there and took his shot — something that we’ve always talked about, no matter what, make or miss. He also did a really good job getting back to the basket, touching the paint, making a place for others or also finishing. He came out with a burst that was pretty special and we’re going to need that burst throughout the year.
It’s been well documented Jones transferred to Michigan this year from Coastal Carolina where he was a prolific scorer and defender. For some graduate transfers, that transition to a major conference is seamless. For others, it takes some time. People forget Mike Smith wasn’t exactly an impact player in his first few weeks in the maize and blue last season.
Jones came in to the Big Ten intentionally trying to be more passive. He wanted to let the game come to him. Howard also touched on this in an interview the other day:
I think he’s been extremely — I would say very reserved in some ways. Also, he’s accepted the coaching and the teaching that’s been delivered his way from either myself, coach Eisley, and others. He’s also taken ownership of times he’s made mistakes, like his teammates have, and he’s never deflected or pointed the finger or made excuses. And I respect the guy. Like I’ve always said, and I’ve told you guys this, I’m in the trenches with him and I support him. I’m always going to support him, because he’s one of us, he’s part of our family.
The constant theme of Michigan basketball being a family has been familiar for years. Even so, it’s always nice to see and hear about from the Michigan coaching staff.