When you mention Tennessee hoops, most casual fans will think of household names like Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield — and deservedly so! Together they have been the heart and soul of Tennessee basketball the last two years, and both the team and the fans feed off their hard-nose, charismatic play.
Although Williams and Schofield have found their media niche, this Vols basketball team is full of players who have gotten progressively better in their tenure at Tennessee. One player in particular who some may say does not always receive the attention he deserves sits at the top of this list- Jordan Bone.
Bone, a Nashville native, came to Tennessee as a three star prospect, the 33rd ranked point guard in the 2016 nation-wide recruiting class, and was the fifth ranked prospect from the state of Tennessee. From nearly day one, he has been a steady contributor to the Vols basketball program.
Bone has started a vast majority of the games during his time at Tennessee despite having been an underclassmen the past 2 years. All of that valuable experience is what has turned him into the elite player that he is today. Over the course of Bone’s first three seasons with the big orange, he has improved in all major facets of the game each season and has proved himself to be dependable in even the highest pressure situations. Each season as he has seen an uptick in minutes, he has also seen an increase in points per game, assists per game, steals per game, blocks per game, and just about any other statistical category you can think of.
One of the biggest differences in last years Tennessee team which was bounced from the NCAA tournament by Cinderella story Loyola-Chicago, is Bone’s willingness to assert himself as a bigger part of the offense. Not only have his game stats grown and developed, but his personality and presence on the floor are hard to match. It is always noticeable when Bone is not on the floor.
Williams and Schofield are going to get their points, that is no secret, and in previous years Bone has been more of a “pass-first” point guard; however, this season he has nearly doubled his points per game from 7.3 to 13.4 per game. The increase is not only due to just taking more shots but also taking more precise, higher percentage shots. Bone has certainly done a better job this season at taking the open jumper when it’s given to him, but one thing in particular stands out:
If you watch Tennessee play, several times a game you will see what I like to call the “cross-bone”—Bone’s own style of a crossover. As he is bringing the ball up, Bone not only has incredible quickness and ball handling skills that allow him to drive to the basket, but instead of taking it all the way to the rim, he slams on the breaks and uses a jump stop to give himself space from the typically off balanced defender. At this point, it’s usually an open shot close to the basket or an easy dish to a teammate who is freed up when his defender shades towards Bone. It’s quickly become one of my favorite parts of his game.
Not only has Bone refined and improved his offensive skill set but he has done a better job of on-ball defending. He is great at positioning his 6’3”, 175 pound frame between the offensive player and the basket and using his long wing span to disrupt shots and passes.
Jordan Bone has improved in nearly every part of his game since he first stepped on the court for the Tennessee Vols. While he may fly under the radar with Schofield and Williams getting much of the publicity, he is arguably the most important part of their success this season. In my opinion, if Tennessee hopes to stay atop the college basketball rankings and book a trip to Minneapolis, Bone will have to continue playing like he is the best point guard in the nation.