Jones, MC set to host Regional|[03/02/07]

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 2, 2007

CLINTON – March seems to bring out the best in D.J. Jones. The former Vicksburg High star wants to lead Mississippi College to the NCAA Division III Final Four, four years after he led the Gators to the Class 5A Boys state championship in 2003.

Jones is already carrying some hardware into tonight’s NCAA South Regional. On Tuesday, he was named the American Southwest Conference’s Player of the Year.

Jones, a 6-foot-3 guard, is hoping to finish his collegiate career with a strong performance in the NCAA Tournament. The ASC coaches thought enough to vote him as the league’s top player.

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&#8220I guess they like my all-around game,” Jones said after Wednesday night’s practice. &#8220I do a lot, from scoring, rebounding and defending.

&#8220But they could’ve also given it to my teammate Tim Broomfield. The guy’s 6-8 and he’s got NBA type range on his jump shot. There aren’t too many of those kind of guys in Division III,” Jones said.

Together, Jones and Broomfield have led the Choctaws (25-2) to a No. 3 ranking in the final regular Division III poll produced by and a second straight ASC Tournament title won last week in Clinton.

Tonight at 8, the Choctaws open NCAA Tournament play against Occidental College out of Los Angeles, Calif. In the early game at 6, Maryville College (Tenn.) (21-6) takes on ASC semifinalist Mary Hardin-Baylor (22-5). The two winners meet tor the South Regional title on Saturday at 7 p.m. at MC’s A.E. Wood Coliseum.

The Choctaws are defending South Region champs and would like to make it three straight trips to the NCAA &#8220Sweet 16” with another one this weekend.

&#8220We definitely have the experience,” said Jones, who leads MC in scoring at 14.4 points per game. He is one of three senior starters in the MC line-up, including Broomfield and forward Marcus Evans.

The big addition is the return of former MC coach Mike Jones to the bench. Jones was the Choctaws’ coach during the team’s successful run in Division II and in the Gulf South Conference in the 1990s, then spent six years as MC’s athletic director.

&#8220Coach Jones has made an impact simply by the fact he has brought his tenacity,” D.J. Jones said. &#8220He wants to get this team to the next level.

&#8220We won our first two games last year here and then went up and lost to Translyvania in the next round. I think we have a pretty good chance to go further this time. But we’re just going have to take it one game at a time.”

Occidental College (19-5) will provide a test. Jones said Occidental is similiar to the Translyvania club that put the Choctaws out last year.

&#8220They have a big team and are very fundamentally sound, a lot like Translyvania,” D.J. Jones said.

Coach Jones agrees.

&#8220They shoot the ball well and do a very good job rebounding. They’ve beaten a couple of good Division II teams,” Mike Jones said.