Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Players In The Game (Lucius Jones)

Lucius Jones-Hidden Gems
As most of our readers know, every couple of months we like to highlight an individual or organization as a “Player in the Game.” In this series we feature individuals who have impacted the game of basketball in some positive way, and have contributed to the overall development of student-athletes in the Buckeye State. This month we feature Lucius Jones, known by most in central Ohio as “Big Lou,” and his Hidden Gems organization.

There are a number of individuals involved in the game of basketball for a variety of reasons; Lucius Jones is in the game for the right reasons, to help kids! Known as “the person to call” for division II and III talent; though his various endeavors Jones has connected college programs with local kids for many years. If a small college coach is looking for players, he calls Lucius Jones. Also, although his Hidden Gem AAU teams don’t always boast the elite talent, many of his players possess enough talent to play small college basketball.

Although he was born in Marion and spent some time in Mansfield, Jones has called Columbus home since 1990. When he arrived here Columbus Jones began working with Ed McCants, who was only a young high school player at the time. Jones’ initial involvement with McCants involved training, and he later assisted McCants in securing a D-I scholarship with Wisconsin-Milwaukie. From his early involvement with McCants, Jones began working with more and more young players, until he realized he needed turn what had once been considered a hobby into more of a business, hence the formation of Hidden Gems. Shortly after his arrival in Columbus, Jones recognized that the community possessed a great deal of division II and III talent, and although a majority of the programs in the area concentrated on discovering and developing the elite player, there were few exposure opportunities for small college players.

The Hidden Gems concept really began to take shape in 2002, but did not really take off until 2006. Since that time, the organization has built a small empire that has grown to include a professional placement service, a high school recruiting/college placement service, individual training, AAU team sponsorship, adult men’s basketball tournaments, a high school ranking service, men’s and women’s semi-professional teams, and annual high school showcase events. In addition, Jones is very knowledgeable about opportunities to play abroad, he has assisted many players in securing contracts to play basketball overseas, and he regularly submits articles to eurobasketball, a valuable resource for international basketball fans. In addition, Jones’ Columbus Hidden Gems women’s basketball team is one of the top teams in the Women Blue Chip League (WBCBL), and his Ohio Hidden Gems men’s basketball team has recently been accepted into the International Basketball League (IBL). As a side note, many of Jone's endeavors are sponsored by Pengwyn.

A few of the players who have benefitted from his program in some way include: B.J. Mullins, Jared Sullinger, Aaron Craft, Josh Bostic, Kenny Langhorne, Javonte Clanton, Robbie Taylor, Scott Thomas, J.D. Weatherspoon, Michael Green, Greg Avery, Rob Brandenburg, Vinny Zollo, Ethan Michael, Rob Matthews, Eric Beard, Scott Hilbert, Ian Nixon, Ian Quick, Taylor Hobbs, Vinny Coleman, Re’mon Nelson, Lothario Jones, Sean Hobbs, Josh Schuler, Stevie Taylor, Trey Burke, Jalen Robinson, Kyle Molock and many more.

As part of this piece I had an opportunity to speak with Nate Davis, a former assistant coach at the University of South Carolina Aiken (SCA) about his involvement with Jones. As I had expected, Davis had nothing but great things to say about Jones. “Lucius has a genuine interest in kid’s development and he really wants to see kids succeed both on and off the court” said Davis. “There are a lot of people in the game of basketball and Lucius is in it for the right reasons” Davis said. When asked about Jones’ eye for talent, Davis indicated that while he coached at SCA,” the team won 72 games in 3 years with Ohio guys on our roster.” According to Coach Davis, Jones was instrumental in connecting SCA with Javonte Clanton (RIP JC), Cordell Ballard and Re’mon Nelson, all starters and/or all-conference players.

With so many negative influences in the game of basketball, it is so refreshing to see guys like Lucius Jones positively impact the lives of young people. Jones is a Christian, a family man and right by his side you can find his lovely fiancée Juanita Jordan and his 4 children; Zephaniah, Aaliyah, Jayden and Jeannie at his events supporting his efforts. “I just want to take secondary kids and put them in successful situations, “said Jones. From this writer’s experience, Jones has been true to his mission, as a number of central Ohio kids are playing college basketball across the country through his efforts. As a suggestion, if you have a son, daughter or player who has not generated much attention from college programs just yet, and you believe he or she has the talent to play college ball, you might want to reach out to Jones for assistance. Hidden Gems Facebook Page.

1 comment:

  1. Big Lu is definetly in it 4 the right reasons.He is decated to helping & developing our young players to their full potential, Big Lu always says " my players don't care how much I know until they KNOW how much I care ". I'm so proud of you son:)