Updated: Jun 11, 2022
As part of a packed weekend of basketball in Texas, Coach Wootten’s Top-150 Basketball Camp brought together an excellent group for two competitive days of hoops at Fieldhouse USA in Mansfield. Pro Insight was on hand to cover the event, and had the chance to chat with several of the top prospects in attendance. Four-star class of 2023 guard Robert “RJ” Jones was one of those prospects. Jones brings an intriguing blend of ball handling, space creation, and shot-making to the guard spot that has led to him to ascend to #38 on the ESPN 60.
Jones will be playing for John Paul II (TX) this year as well as Drive Nation (TX) on the EYBL circuit, and is receiving a good amount of high major interest.
In this interview, Jones discussed his background, his basketball journey, his recruitment update, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2023 prospect RJ Jones, from Pensacola, Florida:
Pro Insight: Can you share a bit about your background?
RJ Jones: I was born in Pensacola, Florida, and moved out here (Texas) because my dad got a job when I was five years old. I went to Braswell High School, started my freshman and sophomore year there and now I am at John Paul II and playing with Drive Nation EYBL 17U.
Pro Insight: Talk a bit about your experience with Drive Nation this year. What did you think you were able to showcase to evaluators and coaches?
RJ: I definitely think I was allowed to go out there and play my game and just hoop. When it came around with coach James Stafford, he just let me go out there and play, which allowed for me to show my skill set, my IQ and my point guard skills for college coaches and pro scouts. I think that’s why I’m getting recruited much more now.
PI: What is the latest with your recruitment? Who has been in touch the most lately?
RJ: Recently I just picked up an offer from Oklahoma State and took an unofficial visit. I am taking an official visit to Texas A&M on October 9th, and staying in contact with everybody that I am really interested in at this point. As for college coaches I have been talking to at the moment, I feel like the ones hitting me up the most are St. Louis, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Illinois, Wisconsin, Arkansas and Missouri for sure, and they have been most active in my recruiting. They have been hitting me up like every day, recently. I like all seven schools, and we plan on taking more visits this year, maybe later on when the season starts.
PI: What are you looking for in a college system as far as a great fit on the court?
RJ: When it comes to college fit, I feel like I can shoot it very well coming off the ball screen and off the catch. I am really good playing on or off the ball, but I love coming off ball screens more than anything or just isolating so that I can create for myself and others. I like those types of actions so I can use my IQ and get better at making those types of reads. I like to be able to have space to drive or come off that ball screen and look for the hook pass to my wing who would be able to shoot it or drive depending on the rotation. Floor spacing is also very important so we can be able to move and get buckets.
PI: Are you working with a trainer right now? What are you working on?
RJ: I have been working with Tyler Relph. I have been working out with Tyler for quite some time now. We work on ball handling, being able to get my shot up off the dribble, creating space to get shots, and that work with him has really helped develop my game to improve my skill set. I also work with E4 Athletics on speed, conditioning, building my core, and developing a stronger mental toughness.
PI: What would you say are some of your key strengths right now?
RJ: Definitely being on the ball, being able to handle the ball, being able to break presses with my passing and handle. I haven’t seen many teams press in a minute, but I break presses really easy no matter if it is zone or man. Obviously shooting, also showing my IQ by making elite-level passes to hit the open man.
PI: What are some improvement areas for you to work on?
RJ: For me being a smaller guard in this class, I’d like to say probably rebounding, because I know I have hops and that if I catch the box-out I can definitely grab a board and start the break early. Obviously you can always get better on defense, but on-ball defense and weak side help are the areas I’m focusing on the most, so just improving on defense and being able to read screens and play help side defense and recover.
PI: What are some underrated aspects of your game?
RJ: I think people don’t really realize my IQ and athleticism. I mean some people do for sure, and there have been a lot of college coaches that have acknowledged it, but I feel like evaluators sometimes just think of my shooting only when I have a good shooting game. The people that have been around me for a couple years know that I am able to dish off whenever I get going and make high-level basketball plays and score on all three levels.
PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?
PI: What are some short-term and long-term goals of yours?
RJ: Short-term goals would be having a great high school season at John Paul II and making a run at state, playing for the Peach Jam championship, then getting through my senior year in high school. Long-term goals are to sign with the best college that fits my style of play, play for a staff that loves me, and fill the role that is going to help us win games. Eventually, be an NBA basketball player! You gotta be a winner.
PI: Are there any players you model your game after?
RJ: My favorite player is Paul George, so I really model my game after him and then also CJ McCollum...I like his game a lot because I think we are built the same and he is a great three-point shooter and can get to his spots easily and create shots off the dribble and make shots efficiently.
PI: What are some motivators to you? Would you say you are intrinsically motivated?
RJ: I am naturally motivated by wanting to be the best that I can be. I am naturally competitive, so I show up ready to go. Sometimes people start chirping, so I turn up even more and it’s not good for their team. I’m also motivated by proving that I belong in the conversations as a top player in the country.
PI: Who are your top-three music artists right now?
RJ: SoFaygo, Lil Uzi, and J. Cole.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for on and off the court?
RJ: Off the court, I just want to be remembered for helping out the community. When it comes to on the court, just being a great guy who’s a great teammate, an NBA Hall of Famer, but hopefully just a good person in general to the whole world.