Mr. Clutch Strikes Again (and Hits a Pretty Impressive Milestone): A Day In The Life of RMU’s Velton Jones

The legend of Velton Jones (Philadelphia, PA/Northeast Catholic) continues to grow.

On Saturday, the battered and bruised Robert Morris senior guard gave it a go at LIU Brooklyn despite injuring his shoulder and playing just two minute at St. Francis Brooklyn two days earlier.  Clearly in pain, Jones’ value to his team came not so much in the way of numbers, but more along of the lines of inspiring the Colonials to a terrific road performance at the WRAC, a venue where the Blackbirds had lost just once since December, 2011 and where the Colonials had fallen short in each of the last two NEC title games.

But in the end, before a national audience on ESPNU and with the game on the line, it was the tough Philly guard who had the ball in his hands.  It was Velton being Velton.

With time winding down and the Colonials down by a point, Jones used a pick from teammate Lucky Jones (Newark, NJ/St. Anthony) to penetrate into the lane, then tossed in one of his trademark floaters that found nothing but net with ten seconds on the clock.  Following an LIU turnover, junior guard Karvel Anderson (Elkhart, IN/Elkhart (Glen Oaks CC)) hit a pair of free throws with 2.5 seconds to play and the Colonials escaped Brooklyn with a 60-57 win and sole possession of second place in the NEC with a 7-3 mark.

“Velton is a warrior,” remarked head coach Andrew Toole following the victory.  “Adrenaline is a hell of a drug.  He was huge on both ends of the floor.  He’s our heart and soul.”

“The kid made a big time shot.” said LIU head coach Jack Perri, whose team had a six-game win streak snapped.  “(Velton) Jones, as hurt as he was, was not trying to shoot most of the time.  He was driving and kicking.  We thought that was what his motive was and then the last one, he’s just a tough kid and he made the tough shot.”

Within moments of the shot, Twitter responded accordingly.

Vinny Simone ‏@VTSimone

Never seen Velton Jones do THAT #sarcasm #teardrop #RMU #LIU

Craig Meyer ‏@craig_a_meyer

That play basically encapsulates Velton Jones: doesn’t care he’s hurt, plays through it and drills what could be game winner. Tough kid

Andrew Chiappazzi ‏@achiappazzi

Velton Jones with the patented late game floater. He’s made his career off of that shot. #RMU #NEC

Ryan Peters ‏@pioneer_pride

I hear this Velton Jones kid is pretty good, eh?

For NEC and Robert Morris basketball fans, Jones will go down as one of the most clutch performers in recent memory, and his floater stands out as perhaps the most dangerous weapon of his late-game arsenal.

Just ask Quinnipiac, which fell victim to a Jones floater with 4.3 seconds left that gave the Colonials a 64-62 win over the Bobcats in the 2011 NEC semifinals.  A year earlier in his freshman season, his runner in the lane was the go-ahead bucket lifted RMU its second straight NEC crown with a 52-50 win over QU.

And while it wasn’t a floater, Jones also showed off his last-second heroics back on February 23, 2012 with a coast-to-coast jaunt and improbable lean-in shot at the buzzer to sink Sacred Heart, 55-53.

And it should be noted that all these game-winners came on the road, where Jones seems to play off the hostile energy of the home crowd.

Almost lost in the commotion of RMU’s big win on Saturday was an incredible individual milestone reached by Jones.

In the 32-year history of NEC hoops, only eight players had reached 1,500 career points and 500 career assists, that is until Jones scored his first bucket of the game.

Jones, who now has racked up 1,508 points in his four years in Moon Township, crossed the 500-assist mark on January 26 and is up to 505 for his career.  He ranks third among active NEC players in points and second in assists.  Ironically, former LIU great Dave Masicale – himself a member of the NEC’s 1,500/500 club – was in attendance on Saturday, and following the game was inducted into the LIU Athletic Hall of Fame.

NEC Players with 1,500 Points, 500 Assists

Deon Hames

RID 

1,589/598

1992-96

Dave Masicale

LIU   

1,501/504

1994-98

Gregory Harris

MSM 

1,760/529

1996-00

Rob Monroe

QU

1,685/541

2001-05

Tristan Blackwood     

CCSU

1,605/506

2004-08

Mark Porter           

WC

1,577/523

2004-08

Jeremy Goode         

MSM

1,716/603

2006-10

Jaytornah Wisseh

LIU

1,693/538

2006-10

Velton Jones   

RMU

1,508/505

2009-13

And there it is, a player with both the numbers to back up his game and the intangibles to energize teammates and fans alike.

And with every dive for a loose ball and every time he hurls his body into a scorer’s table, Jones further etches himself into both RMU and NEC lore.

February 4, 2013

 

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