COVINGTON, Ga. — Darvin Jones wanted to go somewhere for college that would allow him to be just as valuable on the collegiate level as he was for the Newton Rams.
So on Thursday evening, when Jones took to Twitter and expressed his commitment to the University of Mobile, his high school coach Rick Rasmussen was quick to say what kind of player the Mobile Rams would be getting.
“Darvin is a true Ram,” Rasmussen said. “He's a student-athlete first and foremost, as his solid 3.3 GPA shows, and he has always been willing do what is necessary to help the team be successful.”
Jones, a 6-foot-1 sharpshooting combo guard, said it took him a couple of weeks after his spring break visit to Mobile to truly make up in his mind the college route he wanted to pursue. Besides Mobile, he was considering going the junior college route “to get more basketball exposure,” but ultimately the opportunity of a four-year degree was too much to pass up.
“Free education is always good,” Jones said. “If I went the JUCO route, I was going to commit to Wallace State. But I decided to get the free education right now and worry more about my education now than just basketball only. I feel like I can become a valuable asset to this team.”
Perhaps the best way to determine Jones’ value to Newton this past season would be to examine the one regular season game the Rams lost.
You’ve got to thumb through the schedule, all the way to the last day in January to find it — a 68-57 loss to the Shiloh Generals. It was a home loss on a night when Jones was out due to illness.
Rasmussen and several of his players remarked after that game how much they missed Jones’ shooting presence, but also his knack for making the right passes and just his overall senior leadership.
Fast forward to February 10 when the Rams played South Gwinnett in the Region 8-AAAAAAA tournament semifinals, and you’ll see it again. The Rams struggled mightily with a South Gwinnett team that they’d beaten handily twice in the regular season. The difference? Jones was out for a half in this game also, due to illness
“When he’s in the game, our offense flows much more freely,” said Newton senior J.D. Notae at the time. “He’s just as important to our team as anybody else out here.”
But truthfully, as good of a scorer as Jones has proven to be, it seems he’s always put other things first besides personal success.
During Jones’ four year career at Newton, he has taken on a variety of roles. Once considered a potential go-to scorer, that role changed as other talented players arrived and emerged at Newton. But Jones said he didn’t mind.
“I think as the years have gone by, I’ve gotten way more mature,” he said. “My role has changed. Coming in as a freshman, coach Ras was looking at me to be a scorer automatically. But more and more talent came in. Guys like J.D. (Notae), Ashton (Hagans) and Isaiah (Miller) came. Just more pieces came together. I played a lesser role, but as you can see, it paid off with more Ws and recognition for our team. And at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters. It’s about the team.”
Jones said Mobile, an NAIA school, “made me feel real welcome.” He plans to major in either communications or sports science, as he wants to pave the way for himself to stay around the game of basketball when his playing days are done.
“I think I want to be a sports commentator,” Jones said.
He said as much during a special moment toward the end of Newton’s season when the team got the chance to meet NBA legend Charles Barkley. Barkley is now an NBA analyst on the TNT network, and during the meeting with him, Jones asked what it would take to do what he does as a sports analyst.
“Since middle school and my freshman year, that’s always been kind of my backup plan — or really my plan A,” Jones said.
Whatever his future plans, Rasmussen says he’s seen enough of Jones to know he can do whatever he puts his mind to.
“We’re very proud of all that Darvin has accomplished, and how he has represented Newton basketball on and off the court during his impressive career,” Rasmussen said. “He understands the importance of teamwork, commitment, sacrifice, fundamentals, overcoming adversity — just all the intangibles a college coach wants in a player.
“In committing to Mobile, he is securing his future and earning an opportunity to get a free four-year education at a very respected school and play the game he loves at a high level.”
Jones will join former Newton star point guard D.J. Hill (class of 2015) at Mobile. Hill is currently the starting point guard at Mobile, and Jones’ addition would reprise the Hill-Jones backcourt tandem that was effective when both played at Newton together.
“They are going to be great together and have a lot of fun in the process,” Rasmussen said.”
Jones is a two-time all-region selection, an all-county selection and a key cog in Newton’s two region championships and deep playoff runs.
Now that his college decision is secure, Jones said he’s looking forward to improving his game so he can be ready to hit the ground running at Mobile.
“They know I’m a scorer,” he said. “And they want me to come in and do what I do. Their coach says he wants me to score the ball. I know I’ve still got to work on passing and defense. I need to get in the weight room and get a little bigger too. But I’m looking forward to helping contribute immediately at Mobile.”