Most collegiate basketball players keep their focus on a basketball, but freshman forward Nekia Jones isn’t like most players.
The Texas sharp shooter boasts a gold medal in shot put from the 2013 Texas Relays and top-three finishes in both shot put and discus at the 2012 UIL Track & Field State Meet. Jones thinks her track-and-field experience enhances her basketball game.
“It’s a lot of footwork,” Jones said of shot put and discus. “You have to have strength, but footwork is a big key and technique — paying attention to the little details will help you a lot in both track and basketball.”
Jones pays attention to the little details because she envisions herself going far in both sporting events. With dreams of becoming the first female Olympic athlete to compete in both basketball and track and field, Jones aims high and doesn’t let anyone lower her goals.
“I feel like I have the opportunity to be great,” Jones said. “As long as I keep working hard, and the coaches believe in me, and I just have the confidence to keep going and pursue my dreams, everything will fall in place.”
Jones’ long-term goals, though, don’t keep her from focusing on the task at hand. While averaging just 9.7 minutes of play per game, Jones, the Beaumont native, also averages six points in the short periods. Providing much-needed boosts of energy off the bench, Jones takes her shooting seriously.
Freshman center Lilley Vander Zee says Jones’ success doesn’t come with selfish intentions — she always puts the team above herself.
“It’s her special talent that she’s been gifted from God, and it’s her mindset, too,” Vander Zee said. “She simply plays for everyone else and to help you. It’s such a special thing and to see her excel in track. I can’t believe I have the opportunity to play with her.”
As Jones and her teammates face the Horned Frogs (15-12, 6-9 Big 12) on Tuesday, the team will look to one another once again to better itself and rebound from the team’s longest losing stretch of the season: three games. Texas also hopes to avenge a disappointing 54-48 loss to TCU last month.
When Jones jumps off the bench to face TCU opponents, she’ll be ready — it’s just one more step in the right direction.