An International Champion

Sporting colors other than her usual black and gold, Oakland University women’s basketball guard Taylor Jones became an international champion on July 16 playing for the U.S. Virgin Islands Women’s National Team in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Women’s Centrobasket.

“I was the youngest one so I know for a fact that they treated me like I was the rookie,” she said. “The speed of the game is a lot different and the physicality and very, very, very physical. The second day I was there I took an elbow to my tooth and it got knocked loose, and they’re like suck it up.”

Jones was contacted via Twitter by the assistant coach of the USVI team, Clint Williams. Jones rejected the offer to play for the team at first, but with some persuasion from her family and Oakland women’s basketball head coach Jeff Tungate, she agreed to play for the national team.

“It shows that she’s able to get rewarded for everything that she’s done and that she’s put into the game,” Tungate said. “It’s great for her to have an opportunity to play over there, but I think it’s great for our university as well and our basketball program to know that we have players that are competing at an international level.”

This season, Jones was named Horizon League Sixth Player of the Year coming off the bench and led the team in scoring at 15.3 ppg which ranked seventh in the league. She scored more than 20 points 10 times and reached double figures 20 times which helped bring Oakland’s offense average to 76.6 ppg and rank 19th nationally. She also helped the Golden Grizzlies to a 12-6 league record which marked the first time Oakland won 12 Horizon League games since joining the conference in the 2013-14 season.

“My expectations for Taylor on this team is to quite frankly be herself and play the game like she is very capable of doing,” Williams said in a press release. “She will be one of the players who we will expect to score the ball and put pressure on defenses by drawing fouls, getting to the free throw line and being an overall playmaker. We’re really excited to have her on the roster and help us reach our ultimate goal of winning this tournament and the gold medal.”

Jones was able to help lead the team to a gold medal. On the first day of the tournament she scored 18 points, 14 of which were in the second half of the game. The USVI had an 82-58 victory over Guatemala which Jones said was a great way to celebrate her 20th birthday.

The U.S. Virgin Islands team went undefeated in the FIBA Centrobasket taking first place and earning a spot to play in the next tournament. Jones and the rest of the USVI team will be taking place in the FIBA Women’s Americup on Aug. 6-12 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.