By Charlie Howard
When junior shooting guard Darius Jones-Gibson was narrowing his decision on where he would play Division I basketball, few would have guessed that the head coach’s alma mater would be a deciding factor.
Jones-Gibson is from Lexington, Kentucky, and comes from a family that bleeds blue for UK. Having an assistant coach from Lexington and a head coach that played for the legendary Wildcats is the reason why Samford was able to get the junior college guard over schools like Eastern Kentucky, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne, Murray State and Fairfield.
Out of high school, Jones-Gibson signed with Eastern Arizona Community College. As a true freshman at EACC, he started every game of the season and averaged 14.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists per outing, leading the team to a 20-10 overall record.
After EACC, Jones-Gibson transferred to Barton County Community College. As a starter, he led his squad in scoring 14 times and proved to be the team’s leading rebounder in four contests, finishing with a solid 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio in 2013-14.
He was also able to create his own scoring, as he tallied a 53 percent shooting mark from the field.
Jones-Gibson has risen to the high expectations that he brought with him to Samford. Earlier this year, he was named Southern Conference Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 19.
Jones-Gibson has a very team-oriented mindset when it comes to the recognition he was given by the Southern Conference.
“It makes me feel good, but I still have a lot to prove. We aren’t where I want us to be. At the same time, I am happy that I am getting recognized for the things I am doing, but until we get to the fourth or fifth seed, what I am doing is not enough,” Jones-Gibson said.
Like his teammates, Jones-Gibson has adopted the phrase FOE, or Family Over Everything.
“To me, it’s like no matter what, you don’t put anything over your family, so if we are going to do something, we are going to do it together. Right or wrong, we are going to stick together. If we draw a play and it doesn’t work, or if we lose, we lose. We don’t blame it on one person. At the end of the day, we have to stick together,” he said.
Although Jones-Gibson currently ranks among the SoCon top 15 in points per game, field goal percentage and steals, he still has big goals for the future.
“I want to win the SoCon, make it to the NCAA Tournament and improve my individual game and my role as a leader on the team,” he said.
After his college playing days come to an end, Jones-Gibson plans to keep playing basketball before entering the business world.
“After Samford, the first thing is to play as many years as I can, whether that be overseas or anywhere else. After I am done with basketball, I may want to start a non-profit business for kids who don’t have access to a gym or a weight room,” Jones-Gibson said.