With the transfer of backup point guard Rasir Bolton, there is a void in the lineup for Penn State basketball. Fans that are Jonesing to find a replacement for the minutes and production that Bolton was expected to bring to the team next season do not have to look very far.
Myreon Jones arrived on campus in 2018 along with fellow guards Rasir Bolton and Myles Dread. Jones was ranked by 247sports.com as the 179th best recruit nationally in 2018. That put him somewhere between Dread (163) and Bolton (206) in terms of expectations and on the court his talents are a combination of Dread and Bolton as well.
Dread is a true shooting guard and Bolton is a player that can score, but likes the ball in his hands as a point guard. Jones came in listed as a combo guard, and last season he showed that he can score. This coming season the team will need him to handle the ball a lot more.
Jones had to wait for his chance to contribute, getting just over ten minutes played per game during his freshman season. Dread (28.9) and Bolton (26.9) got more playing time, but Jones’ production was great when he was on the court. It is possible that all he needed was a little more time to develop, and now what he needs is playing time. With Bolton gone, he will get his chance.
Jones averaged 1.9 steals per 40 minutes played last season, twice as many as Bolton and Dread, who each averaged 0.9. To put that into context, Josh Reaves averaged 3.0 steals per 40 minutes played, and Jamari Wheeler 2.5. Reaves and Wheeler are absolute freaks when it comes to taking the ball away, but Jones’ totals show that he was working hard to get steals, and succeeding.
Only Lamar Stevens (21.6), Mike Watkins (15), and Rasir Bolton (17.2) scored more points per 40 minutes played than Jones (14.8) last year. And that was with Jones getting sporadic playing time, and weathering a common freshman shooting slump.
While it is a small sample, Jones’ ability to steal the ball and also score were evident. Those of us that watched the games saw his defensive intensity without needing statistical verification. We will see more of him, so if his production remains high, that will be great for the team.
Jones went 18 for 65 from three-point land during his freshman season, good for 27%. He had a brutal stretch in the middle of the season which he shot just 4 of 28, or 14%. That slump accounted for nearly half of his attempts for the season, bringing down his overall percentage.
Early in the season, Jones went 4 of 8 from deep while scoring 18 points in the huge win against Virginia Tech. He found his stroke at the end of the season, making a three-point shot in six of the final seven games while hitting on 6 of 12. The only game that he didn’t make one in that stretch was against Wisconsin when he played just 4 minutes and did not shoot a deep ball.
Bolton Can Be Replaced
While Jones is a slightly different type of guard than Rasir Bolton, his skill set can fill the void left by Bolton. There is the possibility that Jones will turn out to be a better college basketball player than Bolton, not that it matters. We wish them each well, the point is that it is too early to make that judgement. Jones has a very high ceiling if he continues to develop.
Rasir Bolton turned the ball over 3.9 times per 40 minutes played during his freshman campaign. The returning three guards that will see the bulk of playing time, Jamari Wheeler (2.4), Jones (1.7) and Myles Dread (1.1) all showed that they had the ability to take care of the ball a little bit more reliably as underclassmen. The group will be a season older and that should help as well.
Should Jones show that he is ready and able to play the 26.9 minutes per game that Bolton did last season, there may not be much more playing time available for a fourth perimeter guard.
Izaiah Brockington and Seth Lundy figure to play the third guard spot or small forward area that Josh Reaves filled last year. With Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins returning and a solid group of primary backups in John Harrar and Trent Buttrick, the front-court depth is nice.
There are only so many minutes to go around. Had Bolton stayed at Penn State, it would have been very hard for Jones to have increased his role without subtracting from Wheeler, Dread or Bolton’s playing time.
With Jones set to take Bolton’s minutes, the team has to replace Jones’ ten minutes per game that he contributed a year ago. That could be done with an additional guard being brought in by Pat Chambers; the team has an open scholarship for the coming season.
Or Wheeler (23.3) and Dread (28.9) could play a couple more minutes each, taking up the slack.
Overall the Lions lost just Josh Reaves and Rasir Bolton, a total of roughly sixty minutes played per game. Izaiah Brockington and Seth Lundy appear poised to gobble up the 33 minutes per game vacated by Reaves.
If Myreon Jones is able to play 25 or so minutes per game, and continues to produce as he did a season ago, the Lions wont have to worry about replacing Bolton. They will be left looking for someone to fill the role that Jones played, which was much smaller, and will be easier to find than a capable backup point guard.