Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Men’s Basketball: Jones jumps from gridiron to hardwood

Playing two sports at the highest level is never easy. Bo Jackson is best remembered as a baseball/basketball hybrid, and Julius Peppers played in a Final Four with North Carolina before becoming a Pro Bowl defensive end in football.

While the odds of Northwestern’s Tonjua Jones playing in the 2008 Final Four are slim, he has transitioned from the football field to the basketball court this season.

“I came into college with aspirations to be a two-sport athlete,” Jones said. “But once I got here, I realized that the demands of one sport at the Big Ten level were enough. I thought it wasn’t in my best interests to split sports.”

Jones played football at NU for four years. Last season he caught 12 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns and was a team captain.

And while he is only averaging a little more than a minute per game and has only appeared in five games, Jones said he knows his role.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come out here and keep playing sports and having a chance to help the team,” Jones said. “It’s a lot different from playing intramurals or pickup ball at SPAC.”

Jones’ quickness and natural athleticism have given him a prominent role at practice, even if he isn’t seeing a lot of minutes in games.

“Right now we have him running the practice team,” coach Bill Carmody said. “He doesn’t have a big ego, and he’s a great guy. You tell him something once, and you don’t have to tell him again.”

But now that he has time to focus on basketball and fulfill his dream of playing two sports, Jones’ unorthodox, physical playing style is helping the Wildcats in various ways.

The senior is playing the best guard on the scout team, and his athleticism and physicality differentiate him from the traditional Princeton Offense player.

And that’s just fine for Carmody and the rest of the team.

“That football mentality he has is great,” junior guard Craig Moore said. “He’s so intense and in your face and will hold guys playing defense, even though you aren’t allowed to that. He adds a great physical nature to our game.”

While many college athletes leave school early to attempt to pursue professional careers, Jones is the opposite.

After graduating with an undergraduate degree in sociology, Jones is pursuing a master’s in sports administration.

“I’ve got the classes at night and a lot of time during the day now,” Jones said. “I’m not trying to get a full-time job right now.”

When the job market comes after him, Jones said he would like to do something in sales or in sports.

“It’s something tangible, and at the end of the day, you’ve either won or lost,” Jones said. “But sports is part of my life, and I’ll never stop playing even after I graduate.”

Even when Jones does get a job, he will have the chance to show his pickup game teammates what he’s learned playing Big Ten basketball.

“It doesn’t mean much to dunk over someone at SPAC,” Jones said, “but to be able to compete at the highest level, that’s something.”

Now with just four games left in what amounts to Jones’ protracted collegiate basketball career, Carmody said he is waiting for the right time to use the senior in the rotation.

“He had been bugging me to play for four years, and he can play,” Carmody said. “When I need an alley-oop, I’ll throw him right in there.”

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Men’s Basketball: Jones jumps from gridiron to hardwood