Career marks such as scoring 1,000 points in your career as a high school basketball player don't come often. That many points is an almost-astronomical total for a high school player, and Heritage senior Rashad Jones surpassed 1,000 last Friday scoring nine points in a 66-51 victory over region opponent, Loganville.
"That was one of my goals coming into high school as a freshman. I always wanted to hit 1,000 points because when I first came to Heritage I saw [Laura Echols'] number retired on the wall, No. 32. And she had like 1,000-plus points so that was one of my goals coming into high school and it was just a blessing hitting it," Jones said. "It was just surreal because I hit one of my accomplishments so I was just really blessed and honored to get the award."
Echols played for Heritage from 1994-1998, and she scored 1,665 points for her career. A feat, Jones likely won't see.
Jones has been a varsity player since his freshman year, a big reason he's been able to reach this accomplishment. Second-year Patriots' Head Coach, Vernon Denmark, says that Jones probably accumulated more than half of those points before Denmark arrived. When Denmark came to Heritage, his coaching style required Jones to take a step back offensively.
"Being the type of player that he was before I got here, I would probably have to say he's one of our more unselfish players. He has sacrificed a lot to change to the style of basketball that I want him to play," Denmark said. "Prior to me getting here, he was kind of the guy who was taking almost every single shot every night. He came in his junior year, had a little bit more talent around him and he was asked to pass the ball a lot more. He unselfishly chose to do that and it has really helped the team."
"He can shoot the ball very well. When he puts his mind to it, he's a good scorer. He probably had over half of that thousand prior to me getting here," Denmark said. "Like I said, for him to still make that accomplishment and also be one of our leading people in assists and also be one of our leading defensive players, I think that it shows that he has an all-around game."
Jones was able to put up points his first two seasons, but the team didn't win much, if any. Denmark brought a winning atmosphere to Heritage going, 35-14 in almost two seasons so far. Denmark praised Jones for his selflessness and his offensive ability.
"I don't think you can find a kid with more heart than Rashad. He has a will to win and he wants to win badly," Denmark said. "Prior to me getting here, he didn't always have the most success as far as the team is concerned. To wanna adjust, to want to kind of carry the team and lead us a little bit, that shows how much passion that he has for the game. He really wants to win and it's very important to him to come out and want to play hard each night."
In meeting Jones just once and talking to him, his exuberant, light-hearted personality engulfs you to the point that you can't do anything but laugh. Jones is a fun-loving, animated, confident but not to the point of arrogance, young man. So, probably as no surprise, Jones says his favorite player is Lakers' shooting guard Nick Young, a.k.a "Swaggy P." You can see the resemblance in their personalities.
"Hold on, you recording? We need to go somewhere quiet," Jones said when we started the interview before finding a quiet spot in the coach's office and letting me know he was ready.
"That's why I got this haircut. The Nick Young style, "Swaggy P,"" Jones said, pointing to his mohawk. "That's one of my idols. I try to play like him, but I'm not 6-foot-7 like him."
Jones jokingly (maybe, seriously) says that if he was 6-foot-7 like his idol he'd be dropping 30 points a game. He doesn't come off as pretentious or arrogant, but you can tell he's just a free-spirited kid that's fun to be around.
Speaking of his offensive game, Jones said that he models his game after...Nick Young, of course. He also likes Derrick Rose. When asked what his go-to move was, Jones, smiling ear to ear, said that he liked to go Chicago-style, but his coach doesn't let him because when he tries to do too much he messes up. Jones then said that he likes the in-and-out move.
Jones, in all of his bravado, is a good kid, humble enough to appreciate his accomplishment and hopefully to play at the next level.
"Honestly, I'll play anywhere, man. I don't care. I'll play community college, JUCO, [Division-3, Division-2], it really doesn't phase me. I just want to play college basketball at the next level," Jones said admirably. "If I get an opportunity to play basketball on the next level then I'm going to take it. It doesn't matter where it's at. It could be in Nebraska, if that's what it takes for me to play basketball I'll go over there to play ball in Nebraska. If I get a chance to play basketball at the next level, I'm going to take advantage of it and it's going to be a blessing."
"Rashad is a great senior," Denmark said. "I'm hoping to try to find a good home for him next year on a collegiate level."
Denmark says that he thinks Rashad can play at the next level. If his basketball skills aren't good enough, or his size isn't enough to warrant someone to sign him at the next level, then his heart will just have to suffice.