The box scores are impressive enough. Ten straight double-doubles.
N’dea Jones knows sometimes it looks easy. It’s not.
The Brookwood grad leads Texas A&M in rebounding and is second in the SEC. Perhaps that’s not a surprise for a player who broke Maya Moore’s county rebounding record. She’s also averaging 11.3 points per game as a junior.
“Sometimes I’ll hear comments like, ‘Oh, you do that all the time,’” Jones said. “It takes a lot to get those, especially my rebounds. I have to chase a lot of them down.”
The streak started with 13 points and 16 rebounds against Corpus Christi on Dec. 29. Jones dropped 22 points and grabbed 14 boards against Arkansas in the first game of 2020. It was 10 and 13 vs. Ole Miss then 19 and 12 against LSU.
Jones’ run got to six straight in a win over Florida on Jan. 19 with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
It didn’t take long for the 6-foot-2 forward to start drawing double teams because of the double-doubles.
“I credit my teammates for getting me the ball in the right positions and reading the defense behind me,” Jones said. “They help me with boxing out if we go up against another really good rebounder.”
Jones had a height advantage in high school, but understood that wouldn’t be enough on its own — especially once she got to college where many players top 6 feet.
“Even though I was one of the tallest people in the county, which made it a lot easier to rebound, I had to learn to really work on things, especially footwork,” Jones said. “A lot of times, I’ll get my rebounds when (the shot is) short so I had to work on being more physical to push somebody out under the basket or just getting side by side so we have a 50/50 chance of getting it.
“Also I have to time my jumps and read where they’re shooting on the court. If they’re shooting a corner 3, it’s most likely to come off the back side. If they’re shooting from the top of the key, I like to come down the middle because I have a better opportunity to go where that ball is. Sometimes I’ll have to tip it to myself, away from the defense, and chase down the ball.”
It’s an art and it’s an effort.
“Sometimes you just have to have heart,” Jones said.
As a freshman in College Station, Jones played in 23 games and averaged 9.5 rebounds per 40 minutes, which was second best on the team.
“I was playing behind Anriel Howard so I knew to get on the court, I had to rebound,” Jones said. “I knew she was the rebounding queen. My coach (Hall of Famer Gary Blair) always says you don’t have to be the leading scorer, you can contribute in other ways.”
It wasn’t the first time Jones heard words to that effect.
“One thing my dad really tried to instill in me is that your time will come,” she said. “Some people struggle with not playing as a freshman. He would always say playing time is earned. If you didn’t earn it, learn from it.”
As a ninth-grader in AAU, Jones played behind Asia Durr, now in the WNBA, and Vicki Harris, a Parkview grad who went on to success at Rutgers.
“They taught me a great deal,” she said. “I knew coming in (to TAMU) how it was going to be. It wasn’t the first time I was behind great players. It was hard when I was a freshman in high school, but it wasn’t as hard when I was a freshman in college.”
Jones started all 34 games for the Aggies as a sophomore with 7.7 points per game and 11.3 rebounds. During the 2018-19 season, she became the first Texas A&M player to have two games with 20 or more rebounds in a season (vs. Oregon and at Georgia). Jones finished the year with 10 double-doubles, including three during five postseason tournament games. She ranked second in the SEC and 14th nationally in rebounding.
“Rebounding was a way I knew I could get on the court and it just stuck with me,” Jones said. “I just know if I’m not doing anything else, I can rebound and help my team out.
“It helps me on my offensive end, too. If my shots aren’t falling, I can get an easy layup. I feel like my rebounds if I have to chase it down, it kind of energizes me. It gets me more connected to the game.”
The Aggies are 18-4 overall and 6-3 in the SEC following a 59-58 loss at LSU on Sunday.
Trailing by two with 17 seconds to go, Jones swatted a Khayla Pointer shot and leapt out of bounds to save the ball, getting it to Ciera Johnson. The Aggies couldn’t convert a layup with six seconds to go and LSU held on to the win with a pair of late free throws.
Jones finished with 12 points an 12 rebounds, running the streak to 10 straight.
Texas A&M next plays at Mississippi State on Feb. 9.