What Auburn basketball is getting in FIU transfer Denver Jones
Only 26 D-I players averaged at least 20 PPG last season. The Tigers now have one of those to be a centerpiece of their reloading roster.
Denver Jones (Twitter)
Auburn fans: With what you know about the Tigers’ most recent basketball season and where their roster stood heading into this offseason, try to build the ideal transfer portal addition.
That player is most likely a guard — specifically an off-ball one. Auburn only averaged 11.7 points per game from its top two shooting guards last season, and Zep Jasper is out of eligibility.
You probably know that the Tigers need a scoring boost in the backcourt in general, though, with Wendell Green Jr. and his 13.7 points per game now off to the pros. Both Tre Donaldson and Aden Holloway have 1-or-2 versatility for next season’s team, so having a bigger offseason transfer that didn’t have to play point guard would be ideal.
And you would want that off-ball guard to be able to shoot. Auburn got hot at times late last season from deep, but it finished the season shooting 31.5% on 3-pointers as a team. For the fourth season in a row, the Tigers ranked 225th or lower nationally in 3-point percentage, which is a far cry from the start of the Bruce Pearl era.
You would probably want a player who can get his own shot, too, and not be overly reliant on needing others to create for him. Auburn didn’t have that kind of weapon last season, and it really caused problems in certain matchups.
You would want the player to give you more size and length in the backcourt, considering the Tigers have been on the smaller side at guard for a while now. That would be even more useful in the case that Allen Flanigan is not returning to the team next season. Reportedly, his father Wes Flanigan won’t be back on Auburn’s bench and will instead be at Ole Miss.
This hypothetical player would need to be able to fit the Tigers’ defensive system, too, as that will continue to be the calling card for any successful Pearl team.
Well, as it turns out, a player that checks pretty much all of those boxes already existed in the portal — and the Tigers didn’t hold back in trying to land him.
His name is Denver Jones, and he signed as a transfer to Auburn from FIU this past weekend.
Jones is a 6-foot-4 guard originally from New Market, Ala. He started his high school career at Buckhorn before playing prep ball in Tennessee. He then went to Garden City Community College in Kansas, where he averaged 19.1 points per game on 47% shooting from the floor and 40% from 3-point range.
In two seasons at FIU, Jones averaged 16.2 points per game while shooting nearly 36% from deep. This past season, Jones was one of just 26 players in Division I to average 20 points per game — and he did it on 47.8% shooting from the floor, 84.5% from the free-throw line and 37.1% from beyond the arc.
Denver Jones (Twitter)
Jones is a high-level bucket-getter in every sense of the word. In 28 games at FIU last season, he scored in single-digits just twice and had 12 points in three other games. In the other 23 games, Jones scored at least 16 points every night. He had 17 different 20-point games, seven 25-point games and a 30-point performance at Rice in which he hit four 3-pointers and went 8-9 from the charity stripe.
The Alabama native was one of the surest things on offense in all of college basketball last season, and he did it in a Conference USA that turned out to be the 10th-best league in America, per KenPom. The C-USA produced a Final Four team (FAU), both of the NIT finalists (UAB and North Texas) and the CBI winner (Charlotte). Not bad for a traditional one-bid conference.
And — despite playing on an FIU team that had a losing record both overall and in conference play — Jones ranked in the top five in the C-USA in: points per game, field goal percentage, free-throw percentage, effective field goal percentage, minutes played per game and points produced per game. He was also in the top 10 in: steals per game, 3-pointers made and offensive box plus/minus.
Jones is an extremely well-rounded off-ball guard, and he seems to step it up in big games. In five contests against “Tier A” opponents last season, Jones averaged 20.4 points per game and shot 54.5% on 2-pointers and 41.7% on 3-pointers.
Again, he checks pretty much every box that Auburn would want in a backcourt transfer this offseason. Let’s dig in more to his skill set.
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