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Brionna Jones Rising Among All-Time Maryland Greats

February 15, 2016

Brionna Jones arrived at the University of Maryland as a two-time All-Baltimore Metro choice and a high school state champion. By the time she graduates after the 2016-17 season, Jones will be recognized as one of the most complete players in the rich history of the Terps' women's basketball program. 

Maryland Terps Women's Basketball 2015-16: Brionna Jones
Photo Credit: Ed Sheahin/PressBox

On Jan. 30, Jones became the 31st Maryland player to reach the 1,000-point milestone. Her 10-point effort during the Terps' 86-63 victory against visiting Indiana moved the junior center into select company. Jones was the second Maryland player to reach the mark this season, joining teammate Shatori Walker-Kimbrough. 

Scoring is just one part of Jones' well-rounded game. She is also moving up among Maryland's all-time leaders in rebounding and blocked shots. Jones' eight rebounds during Maryland's 87-67 win at Purdue Feb. 2 pushed her career total to 695, and she has already moved onto the Terps' top-10 list in career blocks. 

But her offensive efficiency makes Jones an exceptional player. She has converted on 62 percent of her field goal attempts during the last three seasons. Despite facing double- and triple-team defensive alignments, Jones ranks second among all NCAA Division I players with a .611 field goal percentage, as of Feb. 10. Her effectiveness around the basket has made Jones one of Maryland's most dependable offensive threats. 

"Every day before practice, I'll spend a few minutes working on post moves," the 6-foot-3 Jones said. "During practice, I'll work against double-teams. Now, the game is slowing down for me. I can be patient and score." 

Maryland head coach Brenda Frese admires Jones' work ethic and her intelligent approach to the game.

"Bri comes in early and stays late," Frese said. "She also takes smart shots. I can't remember her taking a bad shot in the last three years. Now, she's expanded her game [from the low post] out to the free-throw line."

Jones began working on her basketball skills at the age of 5. 

"I played for a couple of years, then told my mom that I didn't want to play basketball," said Jones, the daughter of Michael and Sanciarhea Jones. "I wanted to be a cheerleader. So I took a year off to be a cheerleader, but I hated it. I played a lot of other sports, including softball and tennis. But I always came back to basketball. It was more interactive and fast-paced." 

Eventually, Jones became a dominant player at Aberdeen High School, earning first-team All-Baltimore Metro recognition during her sophomore and junior seasons. As a junior, she led the Eagles to the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association Class 3A state championship and was named the Baltimore Metro Player of the Year by The Baltimore Sun. Jones also excelled for her AAU basketball team, the Fairfax (Va.) Stars. 

But her fortunes turned during her senior season at Aberdeen when Jones tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee. 

"Initially after the injury, I wondered if I was going to be able to get back in time and be able to play like myself again," Jones said. "When I got here, the workouts were really tough, and I was second-guessing myself. But several of my teammates [Essence Townsend, Laurin Mincy and Brene Moseley] had already been through [knee surgeries], and the confidence that they gave me added to my motivation." 

Jones became an impact player during her freshman season in college -- breaking into the starting lineup midway through the campaign and helping Maryland reach the Final Four for the first time in eight years. Jones was a full-time starter as a sophomore, averaging 12.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game as the Terps tied a school single-season record with 34 victories, won the Big Ten championship and returned to the Final Four. Jones, who recorded 14 double-double efforts, earned All-Big Ten honors from the conference's coaches (first team) and media (second team). She was also one of five Maryland players named to the Academic All-Big Ten team. 

Jones came to Maryland in part because of its proximity to her home in Havre de Grace, Md. 

"When I came to meet the players and coaches, it was like a family atmosphere," Jones said. "I was glad that I chose here, because my parents and grandparents could come see me."

Jones hails from a family where basketball is a way of life. Her father played at the University of Hartford (Conn.). Jones' older brother, Jarred, earned first-team All-Baltimore Metro honors after leading John Carroll School to the 2011-12 Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association title and is now the leading scorer and rebounder for the men's basketball team at Loyola (Md.). Jones' younger brother, Jordan, is a sophomore forward at Aberdeen. 

During her senior season, Jones will have some familial company in College Park, Md. Her sister, Stephanie, a standout player at Aberdeen, has committed to Maryland. 

"I tried not to be too much of a factor [in the recruiting process], because I didn't want her to base her decision on me being here," Jones said. "When she was here, I showed her everything. If she had any questions, I would talk to her about them. But I didn't want to be that motivating factor."

Jones' quiet and steady leadership style has had a positive influence on the Terps' younger players. 

"She's always led by example," Frese said. "It's exciting when one of your best players is also your hardest-working player. Bri still isn't someone who is going to talk all the time. But when she does speak, you'd better listen because it's going to be straight talk from the heart." 

One of three pre-med students on the Terps' roster, Jones plans to become a pediatrician. A kinesiology major, Jones is also contemplating a professional basketball career. 

"If I have the opportunity, I want to play [professionally]," said Jones, who competed for the United States team in the 2015 World University Games. "If not, I'll be ready to go to med school. When I was younger, I always told my mom that I wanted to be a doctor."

Issue 218: February 2016