Utah State won't be in the postseason this March, but the Aggies have instead focused on rebuilding the team after the graduation of some big-time talent.
That process continued Monday with a commitment from Elston Jones, the first true big man of Utah State's 2014 class who could contribute early.
Jones, a two-star, 6-foot-10 center out of Goodyear, Ariz., chose the Aggies over offers from in-conference rivals New Mexico and Fresno State. After the graduation of Jarred Shaw, Utah State needs Jones to compete for time as a freshman as the program strives to improve on its eighth-place finish this year.
He made his choice only a week and a half after visiting Logan when the Aggies played Wyoming.
"I really love all the fan support they have," he said. "Just all the fans cheering for the team. You can see they stick together."
While Jones is putting his faith in that rebuilding effort, the Aggies are also putting a bit of faith in him.
Before tearing his patella tendon in a freak injury after another player landed on his knee last year, Jones had some big offers in pocket, including Cal and UNLV. Teams backed off a bit after he was injured, and he was unable to participate in most of the summer AAU circuit. He only was able to compete in about half of his high school games at Millennium this year.
But his potential makes the Aggies feel good about bringing him in the fold. In his junior year of high school, he averaged about 13 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks per game. The Aggies like his mixture of post moves, rebounding and defensive ability in the paint, but want him to work on toughness and adding a bit of offensive range.
As for his knee, Jones hopes it won't be a talking point when fall rolls around.
"It feels pretty good, almost 100 percent," he said. "It means a lot that they trust me and aren't scared to take the risk like some other teams."
Jones has basketball in the bloodline: Both of his parents, Elston Jones and Sharon Jones, played basketball at New Mexico State, the "other" Aggies. But Jones said they won't hold the rivalry against him when he signs his letter of intent on April 16.
He was nearly lured to be a Bulldog by fellow Compton Magic teammate Isaiah Bailey and fellow Arizona native and Mountain West freshman of the year Paul Watson. Jones said hitting it off with Stew Morrill and excitement over the new basketball practice facility opening in May also sold him on being an Aggie.
|1.||Simmons calls ex-KISS bandmates crack addicts, losers|
|2.||Kate Kelly appeals excommunication from Mormon church|
|3.||Bagley Cartoon: Future of Utah Lands|
|4.||Gas explosion levels home in Draper|
|5.||Movie review: Johnson flexes muscle in bloody ‘Hercules’|
|6.||Lynch expected to hold out from Seahawks camp|
|7.||At Twilight Concert, Charles Bradley ends Pioneer Day with a groove|
|8.||‘Gestapo’ BLM officers decried in House hearing|
|9.||Pioneers of hip-hop coming to Salt Lake City|
|10.||Golf: Jim Furyk ties course record at Canadian Open|