Created:Sunday, February 21, 2010 10:46 p.m.CDT

Men's hoops lands big recruit


Kyree Jones didn't know the history, but felt an instant connection with Northern Illinois men's basketball coach Ricardo Patton a few minutes later.

Jones, a point guard most recently of North Carolina Tech Prep School but calls Indianapolis home, has committed to play for the Huskies. But it was who he models his game after that helped clinch NIU as his college choice.

"I try to idolize my game after Chauncey Billups," Jones said. "[Patton] was like, 'Well, I coached him (at Colorado).' I thought that's crazy. That's huge for me. I like hearing that."

Jones, who will enter NIU as a freshman next season, appears to be a pretty big get for the Huskies when looking at the recruiting rankings. ESPN had the 6-foot-2 point guard ranked as the No. 56 point guard in the country in the 2009 high school class. Various big schools were at least interested in Jones at one point, including Purdue, Indiana and most recently Oregon.

"The person I work out with in the summer is [former Indianapolis Pacer] Fred Jones," Jones said. "I talked with him [Saturday]. He's trying to get me to go to Oregon. He talked to the coach (Ernie Kent). They offered me. I told him I had already committed to Northern. He was shell shocked. I just felt like Oregon was unstable. I wasn't too worried about that at Northern."

Asked if he's been following the Huskies through their current 10-game losing streak, Jones said he was.

"That will change," he said.

Jones has been to six different high schools, which he felt has hurt him in recruiting and has given him an unearned reputation. Some of the moves have been because of the various coaching jobs his father, former Chicago State head coach Kevin Jones, has had over the years.

What hurt him the most, Kyree said, was leaving Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis. Lawrence North is one of the most powerful high school basketball teams in the country and is where former No. 1 NBA draft pick Greg Oden played in high school.

"People started judging me with all of the moves and never looked into those situations," Jones said. "I transferred my junior year down to Houston and that really hurt me. [Lawrence North coach Jack Keefer] is a high-powered coach. He said a lot of negative things and that took my recruiting down. I had to start over basically."

But with prep school completed, Jones said he's ready for life in Division I and at NIU.

"It's a school that's close to home," he said. "I want to take Northern to the top."

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