Jones named Panhandle Player of the Year
Northwest Florida State’s Chris Jones shoots for two in a game earlier this season. (Courtesy of Nick Tomecek/Daily News)
2/27/2013 – By BRANDON WALKER
NICEVILLE — Make it a clean sweep for Chris Jones.
After leading his Northwest Florida State College Men’s Basketball program to a 25-2 regular season record and a second-straight Panhandle Conference championship, Jones was honored by the league’s coaches Monday as the Panhandle Conference Player of the Year, an award he also won as a freshman in 2011-12.
“Chris’s record as a starter in the Panhandle is 22-2 over his two seasons, and he has been a part of a lot of wins in one of the top leagues in the country,” said NWF State head coach Steve Forbes, who also was named the league’s Coach of the Year. “He deserves all the recognition he gets. He was the best player on the best team, and when you look at his scoring, his rebounding, his assists … He did it all for us. He also made game-winning plays all season.”
Jones, a sophomore guard from Memphis, has already signed to play for head coach Rick Pitino at the University of Louisville next season. The 5-foot-11 guard led NWF State with 22.7 points per game, an average that ranked second in the nation behind Bobby Hunter of Santa Fe College, who averaged 25.5.
While his scoring numbers have been outstanding since his arrival in Niceville last season, the real value of Jones could be found in his leadership, particularly at the end of close games. Jones posted a pair of game-winning shots this season, the first a 75-footer at the buzzer to beat Lee (Texas) College in December and the second a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Pensacola State last week.
“I’ve always said that the biggest thing about Chris is his competitiveness,” Forbes said. “He just refuses to lose. In our last swing around the conference, he probably made a play late in every single game to help us win.”
Cook, Fulton also on First team
While Jones was named Panhandle Player of the Year, the Raiders led the conference with seven players receiving postseason recognition. Joining Jones on the first team are forward Elgin Cook, a freshman from Milwaukee, and guard Lamin Fulton, a sophomore guard from Philadelphia.
Cook, the conference’s second-leading vote-getter, averaged 14.8 points and six rebounds per game to emerge as the second scoring option for the Raiders.
“I thought Elgin was fantastic, especially when you consider this was his first year playing college basketball,” Forbes said. “He jumped right in and really competed in a tough league.
Another trio of Raiders were named Second-Team All Conference, including center Michael Chandler (Indianapolis), forward Arthur Edwards (Temple Hills, Md.), and Crestview native Shykeem Jackson.
Freshman Tevin Glass was given Honorable Mention recognition.