September 3, 2016

Jones eager for his senior season

Kevin McCarthy

Cameron Jones isn't going to touch the top of any backboard or drop 40 points on his defender but that isn't a prerequisite when you're 6-foot-5 and 225, willing and able to bang opponents who attempt to enter the paint, provide leadership and possess a team first attitude.

photo of Cameron Jones

The Palma High hoops and football player and member of the West Valley Basketball Club (WVBC) is "physical without forcing himself to be -- contact doesn't bother him, he welcomes it," according to WVBC Coach Bob Bramlett. "Most players struggle with the contact, but not Cameron. What separates him is that it is a part of his nature. So imagine a player playing physical with a smile on his face. Its his world and he thrives there."

That trait paid off handsomely in Palma's 58-56 Northern California Division IV championship victory over West Campus last March. A late 14-0 Chieftain run only tells part of the comeback win. Palma held West Campus opponent scoreless during that streak and Jones played a pivotal role. "I got the last stop on defense. Coach told me to guard their best player so I walled up on the guy and stopped him from doing his go-to move and I blocked his shot at the buzzer. It was the best moment in my life."

Jones cited "being a force on defense in the paint, my post-up and mid-range game on offense and that I'm all about the team first" as his best hoops attributes. "I always go into games wanting to make it hard to score on me and to force my opponents to shoot jumpers." Bramlett added, "While Cameron isn’t a skywalker, he does get off the ground very quickly. It may very well be a family trait because I noticed it in Haley Jones, his sister. Their unique ability to control a blocked shot as opposed to send it up into the stands is attributable to their acumen and sense of game."

On another element of his game, Jones said, "I'm most definitely a leader and it's by example and not by going around yelling. One of my teachers told me 'everyone wants to be like you' because I take care of myself in the classroom."

Call his a baptism in basketball since "I've been going to the gym since I was two days old and worked as the ball boy when my parents were coaches at Santa Cruz High."

He is also used to performing in whatever role he is asked to undertake. "Playing for Palma and then West Valley is very different. I was behind Wyatt Maker (a 6-foot-8 senior who signed with Cal State East Bay) last season so I brought energy whenever I got on the court. With West Valley, I was an offensive threat, I averaged a double-double this season with being a force on defense."

“I watched Cameron throughout the playoffs and what impressed me the most was that he understood his role playing behind a very talented player, Bramlett recalled. "He embraced it and made himself a factor as a result of it. That is a lesson not often employed because egos get in the way but Cameron saw the bigger picture, winning. In two games, I watched him lock down post players who were 6-foot-9 or better. I shot off the film to a few schools and the calls came right away. It is the same impression he left at the camps he attended over the summer. The comments were consistent. 'Great mid-range shooter, space eater, quick feet and excellent footwork. Cameron will be very busy this fall as he has two schools that have contacted me after watching him perform and want to arrange visits. There are a half dozen more that are involved as well. Both he and his family have determined that they want his college decision completed early. It is actually a pleasure to work in an environment where the family and the student-athlete get it, understanding that making a decision for college is more than just based on how many television appearances per year.“

Regarding recruiting, Jones has no geographical preferences. "The school I choose has to have my major, be a fit for me, one where I can play and really like the coach."

He is a dual sport athlete since he plays football too. Jones' entry into football is rather unique. "I attended Santa Cruz High as a freshman and then transferred to Palma." While at orientation in Salinas, Chieftain Coach Jeff Carnazzo sized him up and told Jones' mother 'I want him to come out.' He had zero experience playing football but "being coached by Coach Carnazzo and Coach Dalman was a no-brainer, something I couldn't pass up." Jones has waited his turn in the football program and believes in his senior year that his hard work, commitment and determination will pay off as his team goes for another league title with the goal to win a CCS football championship.

Possessing a 3.3 grade point average and scheduled to take the SAT in early October, Jones is looking to major in sports management with the intent of working on the business side in a team's front office.

Palma finished 26-5 overall last season, 12-0 in the Monterey Bay Gabilan League. Top scorer Jamaree Bouyea, a guard returns, and the expectation is that Jones will be the frontcourt leader. Could another trip to the state championship game be achieved as an encore?