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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Hoops opens against NAU

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Wildcats beat the Western New Mexico Mustangs Tuesday night 96-55 at McKale Center.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Wildcats beat the Western New Mexico Mustangs Tuesday night 96-55 at McKale Center.

Momo Jones walked into Room 109C of McKale Center on Thursday with shiny gold earphones on his head and a smile on his face.

He silenced his earphones and took off his cap as he took his seat before a handful of media members.

He seemed comfortable, but the thought of the UA men’s basketball team’s first game of the season — Sunday at 3 p.m. in McKale Center against Northern Arizona University — is overwhelming, he said.

And this is coming from a young man who was the No. 68 overall college prospect in the nation in high school, who prepped at Oak Hill Academy, where Brandon Jennings, Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley went, and played in the Jordan Brand Classic in New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

“”I’ve played in some big games,”” the 6-foot, 200-pound point guard said, “”but this is my first college game.””

But don’t mistake his anxiety for a lack of confidence and toughness.

Coming from Harlem, N.Y., he was raised by a single mother, Jeneen Fuller. He never knew his biological father, and his stepfather, Clarence Sims, was shot and killed near his home when Jones was just 8 years old.

“”I just had to be tough,”” he said. “”It’s been to my advantage, and I feel like there’s no need to stop now.””

Jones, the godson of UA assistant coach Emanuel Richardson, was once verbally committed to play for Louisville, then to Virginia Tech. He signed a letter of intent to play for USC, but was able to back out when then-head coach Tim Floyd resigned.

Now he’s a Wildcat, and he’s showed that he can score and distribute the ball well.

“”With his size, he’s got to be relentless with his effort, and he’s got to be in the right position, and he’s got to be a smart defender as well,”” said UA head coach Sean Miller. “”I can tell just watching him, he’s really taking that part of the game serious.””

Last season’s Wildcats displayed a chemistry that Arizona arguably hasn’t had in years. Departing players Zane Johnson, Fendi Onobun and David Bagga all said it was the best team they had ever played for.

Not that this year’s team necessarily has less chemistry. The tightness of the squad is visible, to say the least.

“”I think every day we click better and better,”” Jones said. “”We go out there as a team, we eat as a team, we talk as a team. Everything we do is team-oriented. I guess you could say we sleep as a team. Everybody’s together.””

The team is as confident as it is unified.

Said Jones:  “”We’ll shock a lot of people, I can tell you that.””

Injury report

Freshman Kevin Parrom, who sprained his foot in Tuesday’s exhibition game, had X-Rays taken. Miller said he hopes to have Parrom healthy for Sunday.

“”We’re hopeful it’s more day-to-day than it is long term,”” Miller said.

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