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Herbert Jones, Naismith Finalist — put some respeck on his name

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The ultimate blue collar warrior

Alabama v Villanova Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

This is huge. Herbert Jones, already a finalist for the Defensive Naismith POTY award, was named a finalist today for the big Naismith award, given to the nation’s player of the year. He is one of just two players in the country to be finalists for both awards.

And he’s a guard.

Nate Oats has had nothing but praise for Jones since his arrival — his work ethic, his leave-it-on-the-floor wild abandon, his leadership, his toughness, and of course Jones’ defense; where Oats has called Jones “the best defender he’s ever coached.

Herb’s stats won’t wow you — he’s good for 11 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 block per game. Even his win value has been diminished somewhat between last year’s thin team and this season’s deeper squad. He contribution to overall team points fell from 13.1 to 6.8, as you would expect when he is not asked to shoulder so much of the load. But, in his senior season, Jones has been the beating heart of this team, without a doubt. And he has improved practically every phase of his game — he has added three-point attempts; he’s shooting career highs from beyond the arc; he’s shooting career-highs in free throws and his FT% has gotten downright reliable (76%). His blocks are up; his steals are up; and he’s at a career high in dimes per game.

Will Jones win? Almost certainly not. But this is huge for the program. And, more importantly, it’s huge for Herb. There is still room for jack-of-all-trade excellence, and the Naismith Foundation has acknowledged that. Without Herb, Alabama does not earn its first SEC title in two decades. That is what this is in recognition of — leadership, going hard on both ends, constant improvement, leadership.

Jones is not the best player in the country, no. But there aren’t many — if any — I’d take over him in a must-win game.

Put some respeck on his name. Herbert MF’n Jones.