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Big Sky Basketball Tournament - First Round - Northern Arizona vs Idaho

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Isaac Jones Scouting Report

Let’s deep dive into WSU’s new big-man

Photo by Tommy Martino/University of Montana/Getty Images

Washington State men’s basketball got a huge commitment last week, nabbing University of Idahos Isaac Jones. Jones is a 6’9, 230-pound big that hails from Orting High School in Spanaway, Washington. He started his college career at Wenatchee Valley Community College, where he dominated for two years. Jones comes to Pullman for his final year of eligibility, and he projects as a starter whether Mouhamed Gueye returns or not.

WSU had actually offered Jones last offseason before he decided to go a few miles across state lines to play for the Vandals. Last season, he was one of the best players in the Big Sky despite playing in bad spacing. Jones’ stats pop, as he averaged 19.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.7 assists on 65.3% true shooting. He had a 3.8% block rate despite rarely playing in drop coverage, and his 8.6% offensive rebound is great. Jones had 63 dunks last season and he shot an insane 71.5% on close two-point shots. His 60.2% free throw rate shows how deadly he can be near the basket.

While it wasn’t what he did most at Idaho, Jones’ most translatable skill is being a roll-man. Idaho lacked the guard play to run pick-and-roll efficiently, but Jones’ athleticism will make him an easy lob target.

Jones excels at finishing through contact, including some emphatic poster dunks. While the athleticism of bigs in the Pac-12 is going to provide some issues, he should adjust fine- and he could look better with better surrounding talent.

If teams are forced to switch WSU’s ball-screens, Jones is going to punish smaller defenders. He will either force help, or get a bucket, and this will make his rolls tough to defend.

Jones can also keep the ball moving and make reads as the defense shifts. He is looking to score first, but having that ability to pass makes him a more complete player.

Jones’ most bankable skill is his post-scoring. Jones scored 1.2 points per possession on post-ups and his combination of strength, quickness, touch, and footwork makes him deadly down low. One of his best skills as a post-scorer is his ability to get and maintain position. He is most comfortable on the left block, but he can score from either side and he is great at leveraging his strength to make himself available for entry passes.

Jones prefers to use his strength and touch to get buckets, but he’ll occasionally pull out some fancy footwork too.

He’s a good passer out of the post. His first instinct is to score, but he will make reads and he should do an even better job with more athletic cutters and better shooters surrounding him.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Jones’ game is his ability to put the ball on the floor. He’s quick off-the-bounce and he leverages that speed well while being able to put together some dribble moves. He also doesn’t settle, getting to the rim when he does put the ball down.

The reactivity of Jones’ handle is pretty impressive. WSU projects to have good spacing, though there might be some worries if Gueye returns. Joseph Yesufu is a help-off candidate on the perimeter, and that ability to get to the rim off-the-bounce is rare for any big.

Jones has shown an ability to turn the corner when faking dribble handoffs. The Cougs ran a high-volume of dribble handoffs last season and that will likely still be a facet of their offense this season. Being able to threaten the rim off-the-bounce makes Jones a more versatile threat in DHO actions.

Defensively, Jones is a bit of a mixed bag. He’s at his best when he isn’t involved in the main action and can roam the paint as the low-man. He makes good rotations for blocks, and his timing and vertical leaping makes him deadly as a shot-blocker.

Jones’ timing is great, and it should translate even better as he plays against tougher competition. He doesn’t over-hunt blocks, but he will take away drives and force defenders into bad shots.

Despite the flashes, Jones had a surprisingly low block rate. The biggest reason for that is Idaho consistently putting him high-catch, which took him away from the rim, which makes shot-blocking hard for a big.

He also seems somewhat low-motor at times. Hopefully most of that was the team around him, but he doesn’t always recover back into the play. Kyle Smith will probably get him to play harder, but it has affected his defense negatively thus far.

He has proven that he can switch as well, which could make WSU a switch everything defense if both Gueye and Kymany Houinsou find themselves in the starting lineup. He switched on to Dalton Knecht -who recently transferred to Tennessee- and Knecht almost never scored on him.

Jones can score in the post, handle the ball in dribble handoff and chin actions, and he has untapped upside as a rim-runner. WSU is getting a do-it-all offensive big who can fit next to Gueye, or help step into his role- which makes Jones the biggest, immediate impact grab for the Cougs this offseason.

Washington State is going to have a lot of lineup options next year, especially if Gueye returns. They have size and athleticism at the wing, a few great shooters, and a couple different options at point guard. Jones raises WSU’s ceiling and floor, and he will make for an excellent Coug.

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