- Texas Longhorns shooting guard Andrew Jones was sidelined for nearly two years after receiving a Leukemia diagnosis during his sophomore season.
- He returned to the court in the Longhorns’ season debut Tuesday night and dropped a game- and career-high 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and 80% shooting from beyond the arc.
- “I was actually really emotional the first time he went in the game,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said. “To have gone through the journey he’s gone through with the approach that he’s had, I’m really excited about that.”
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For the first time in almost two years, shooting guard Andrew Jones checked into a game for the Texas Longhorns.
After receiving a devastating Leukemia diagnosis just 10 games into his sophomore season – a season that many expected would launch him towards the NBA Draft – Jones endured many rounds of treatment while watching his teammates compete from the sidelines.
As of September of this year, the Irving, Texas, native was still undergoing treatment and practiced with the Longhorns while sporting a PICC line. But in his return Tuesday night, Jones played without any inhibitions, and it showed on the stat sheet.
In 29 minutes on the floor, the 6-foot-4 sharpshooter dropped a game- and career-high 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and 80% shooting from beyond the arc. He tacked on three rebounds and two assists to lead Texas to a 69-45 victory over the Northern Colorado Bears.
“Man, I can’t even explain the feeling,” Jones said, per ESPN. “Coach gave me a pep talk before the game even started. Reminding me about the 23 months, the last time I played. How much work I put in. I just had to trust my work and everything I’ve been putting in. Just come out here and play.”
A former top-touted recruit and McDonald’s All-American, Jones enjoyed a stellar freshman season in Austin and quickly became one of Longhorns head coach Shaka Smart’s premier talents. He was en route to a breakout sophomore year, packing the stat sheet night after night to the tune of 15.3 points per game and a 43.2 3-point percentage before a wrist injury took him off the floor for four games.
Though Jones’s wrist healed nicely, the rest of his body wasn’t feeling right. And before he could rejoin his teammates, he was diagnosed with cancer. And though his primary focus shifted from basketball to fighting for his life, Jones never completely divorced himself from the game. Tuesday night’s homecoming seemingly brought his story full circle.
“Sometimes in life when you’re dealt a tough hand, it’s really all about how you respond,” Smart said, per The Daily Texan. “For the past almost two years, that’s what Andrew (Jones) has had to do.”
“I was actually really emotional the first time he went in the game,” Smart added. “To have gone through the journey he’s gone through with the approach that he’s had, I’m really excited about that.”
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