CORAL GABLES – DeQuan Jones has always been what Miami coach Jim Larranaga calls “a phenomenal athlete.”
He’s speedy, quick, a tremendous leaper and spectacular dunker who provides scintillating highlights.
What he hadn’t been, though, is consistent.
In six games since being cleared by the NCAA to play, the 6-foot-8, 221-pound senior has been the spark off the bench the Hurricanes had hoped for. He’s shot 55.2 percent and averaged 6.7 points and 3.8 rebounds while playing 13.5 points per game.
Against Clemson on Wednesday, he was 5-for-7 for 10 points in 14 minutes. His only negative stat: one assist compared to eight turnovers.
“I can see a big difference in my game from last year,” said Jones, who describes himself as “an energy guy” who tries to provide whatever’s lacking when he enters the game. “It’s now being an asset to the team. I’ve kind of found my niche, where I can score in the offense or draw two people and kick [the ball out].”
Larranaga said he wants Jones to be “classified as a finisher,” adding at Cleveland Cavaliers forward Antawn Jamison, a former standout at North Carolina, should be an example for him.
“If you timed with a stopwatch how many seconds [Jamison] has the ball in his hands, there was one game I believe he had the ball in his hands [a total of] 52 seconds and scored 39 points,” Larranaga said.
Jones, who said he’s not familiar with Jamison, says his own game is most like the Houston Rockets’ Terrence Williams, who he watched play at Louisville.
Regardless, “I’ve always had that title of being a finisher,” Jones noted. “Coach has done a good with me as far as familiarizing me with my role, making sure I’m in those situations where my athleticism can show and I can be successful.”