Jones and Patton: Leaders on and off the court
One recently completed his career as the all-time leading scorer in NAU men’s basketball history, while the other is on pace to eclipse the NAU women’s basketball scoring mark when her career is all said and done. Together, senior guard Cameron Jones and sophomore guard Amy Patton have excelled not only on the court, but off of it as well.
“Obviously both of them are go-to scorers,” said head women’s basketball coach Laurie Kelly. “When the game is on the line, the ball is in their hands most of the time. They completely represent what a student-athlete should be, not only on the court, but also in the community and in the classroom. As a university, we’re fortunate to have these type of student athletes.”
Jones saved his best season for last, leading his team to conference semifinals and a postseason berth in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. He earned his second straight unanimous first-team All-Big Sky selection and third overall all-conference honor, finishing the season with a team-high 20.1 points per game, while also ranking second on the team in rebounds and assists. He completed his career with 1,646 points, tops in school history, and his 643 points this season are also a single-season-best for the program.
“It was a great year,” Jones said. “We got to the [conference] semis, and we did better than last year with the same team, so there are no regrets. It was a great season with great personal accomplishments, and I’m ready to move ahead.”
Jones’s success extends off the court, too. He is one of 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award and became the first Lumberjack to be named to the 2011 Lou Henson All-America Team and the NABC All-District 6 team, and the second Lumberjack to be selected to the Reese’s College All-Star Game to be played at the Final Four in Houston, Texas.
“These are great accomplishments for him,” Patton said. “Obviously there were a lot of players that came before him, so for him to be the all-time leading scorer, it’s pretty amazing.”
Yet despite all of his impressive accolades, Jones’s career got off to a rather pedestrian start.; he averaged just 3.9 points per game as a freshman. But he increased his scoring each the following seasons — from 12.7 points per game as a sophomore to 19.3 points per game as a junior.
“Every year he seemed more fit, bigger and stronger,” Kelly said. “Cameron is someone I would say is a great player, because not only does he do things for his team individually, [but] when he’s on the floor he makes every player around him better.”
Unlike Jones, Patton hit the ground running as a freshman. She finished as the co-conference leader in scoring with 18.6 points per game and was the first freshman and non-post player to lead the conference in rebounding (8.6 per game) and double-doubles (13). She also broke the school’s 23-year-old single-season scoring record with 539 points and 25-year-old single-season record with 207 made field goals. For her efforts, she was the unanimous choice for Big Sky Freshman of the Year and was voted to the All-Big Sky second team.
Although she struggled at times this season, she still managed to earn her second straight All-Big Sky second team honors with a conference-leading 16.4 points per game. She also finished with a team-high 5.5 rebounds per game (13th in the conference) and 57 steals (fourth in conference with 2.0 steals per game). In the season finale, she became the first sophomore to eclipse the 1,000-career-point mark in NAU women’s basketball history. After two seasons, she sits at 1,016 career points, just 662 points behind the all-time scoring mark.
“She’s probably going to triple my [total],” Jones said. “That’s a lot of points as a sophomore. She works real hard, and her attitude is one of the best I’ve seen of all the girls I’ve seen play. She’ll probably be one of the best female players to come through here.”
Patton’s team improved in her second season, increasing their win total from five last year to 11 this year. Still, the Lady Jacks failed to qualify for the conference tournament, something Patton said she is looking forward to doing next year.
“As a team we improved a lot, but I wish we would’ve been able to make it to the [conference] tournament,” Patton said. “Hopefully next year we’ll get there and win it.”
Kelly, however, said she thinks Patton’s best has yet to come and envisions her in the same mold as Jones as she enters her upperclassman years.
“Amy has accomplished a lot of things, but what she’s capable of is miles away,” Kelly said. “She’s going to be a huge factor in us getting back to the top of the league. If anything, she’s just a couple of years behind Cameron. They’re both really similar in that when you get Cameron and Amy, as coaches, you’re very fortunate to have them.”