Freshman guard living up to high expectations

Ally Racey

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Taylor Jones, a three-time Horizon League freshman of the week this season, chose to further her love for basketball at Oakland University and has definitely lived up to her coach’s expectation of her. 

“I expect big things from her this season,” head coach Jeff Tungate said at the start of the 2015-16 season.

The Detroit native Jones said Tungate wants her to become freshman of the year. 

“Ever since he told me that, I knew that was something I wanted to achieve,” Jones explained. 

To accomplish that, she knew she would have to change her work ethic and do things other freshman weren’t willing to do. 

“I started to focus on the areas I struggled in the most and began looking for ways in which I could become better,” she said. 

“Although I am not nearly close to being perfect, I am still trying to improve on a daily basis. I believe I can only get better from here on out.” 

Besides being close to home, Jones explained that she came to Oakland because she felt she could help make a difference there. Throughout her recruiting process, she believed to have had a connection with the coaching staff and team.  

“They made me feel apart of their family and welcomed me with open arms,” Jones said. “Coach Tungate made it clear to me that he was building a great program here and I just knew that I had to be apart of it.”  

Jones mentioned that the transition from playing on her Farmington Hills Mercy High School team to the college level has been a complete change from physicality to the pace of the game.  

“All the coaches here have high expectations for me. Back in high school, I could get away with a lot. However, that no longer works here. Everything has to be done with a purpose,” Jones said. 

“I’m required to give 100 percent effort in all that I do.” 

During the weeks of Nov. 16, Dec. 28 and Jan. 11, Jones was named Horizon League Freshman of the Week. She felt blessed because there were days when she felt nothing could go right on the court.  

She stayed positive because she knew her time would come no matter how long it took. She knew she would be ready. 

“Although I am proud of those achievements, I am not satisfied,” she added.   

On top of her Horizon League Freshman of the Week titles, Jones is ranked ninth in the conference for steals. 

She says she has always been one of the top steals on previous teams because of her long arms. She explained that she just goes for a steal when the time is right.

“I try to read their eyes and once I see where they look, I go for it,” she said. 

Be smart, play aggressive and let the game come to me. These three pieces of advice run through her head during each game. To get herself motivated, she listens to music and prays on game day. 

Jones has been playing basketball since she was four years old. She loves the intensity it brings. Watching her two older brothers play made her want to become involved in the sport.

“As soon as I was old enough to walk I knew I wanted to partake in it as well,” she said. 

She later added volleyball to her list of talents, but invested more time in basketball because volleyball was just a sport she liked while basketball is something she truly loves and finds enjoyment in.

Her family, especially her mom, motivates her to be the best basketball player she can be.

“My mom made a lot of sacrifices for me growing up. I just want to do my part and make her proud in return,” Jones said. 

Between basketball and her education, Jones prioritizes her time and gets her work done in the classroom.

“The same amount of effort I put on the court has to be put in my studies as well.” 

Jones’ favorite thing about the basketball program at Oakland is the team as a whole. 

“I love the coaching staff and truly feel that all of the girls on the team are my sisters,” she said.

Jones is currently enrolled as a communication major at Oakland. In five years, she hopes to continue playing basketball or work within a career that she enjoys.  

Jones and the rest of the team return to the blacktop at the O’rena to face Northern Kentucky on Jan. 14 at 7 p.m.