GW’s Jonquel Jones on Growing Up in the Bahamas with Buddy Hield

Of the 12 prospects invited to Thursday’s WNBA Draft 2016 presented by State Farm, perhaps none has followed an unlikelier path than Jonquel Jones.

The forward from George Washington became just the third Bahamanian woman to earn a Division-I basketball scholarship in the U.S. She grew up playing on a court her father, Preston, build in her grandma’s backyard.

At Draft orientation on Tuesday, Jones still remembered the first time she encountered the WNBA when she was 7 or 8 years old.

“I was watching TV, flipping through channels, and I stopped because I saw people playing basketball,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh my goodness — those are women.’ I just say there and watched it the whole time. I had no idea what the WNBA was. I was in the Bahamas — sometimes we wouldn’t even get NBA games. I was just really happy to see this on television. I know for a fact it was the Detroit Shock because I became a Shock fan.”

More than a decade later, Jones is a part of the league’s historic 20th Draft class. She’s been touted for her versatility as a 6-6 double-double machine who averaged 2.3 blocks per game during her college career, which followed a move to Maryland at 14 years old. “My defense is something that I can bring to the next level, being able to alter shots and use my length to disrupt the offense,” she said.

But Jones also has some intriguing perimeter skills that could allow her to play both forward spots at the next level. She developed those skills while working alongside a fellow Bahamian player very familiar to anyone who watched the men’s NCAA tournament: Oklahoma star Buddy Hield.

Jones said she, Hield and other eventual D-I or D-II players would work out with coach Gladstone “Moon” McPhee starting at six in the morning before heading to school. Now the two Bahamanian kids are heading pro within two months of each other.

“Buddy, everything that he’s done he deserves it because he works so hard,” Jones said. “Every time you hear a story about his work ethic, everything I’ve heard has been the exact truth. … It’s a blessing watching somebody grow from being a class clown. He’s still a goofball in a lot of ways, but he’s grown into an amazing man.”

McPhee will be seated beside Jones at Mohegan Sun Arena on Thursday as she braces for the next step in her basketball journey. “I’m just so happy to be a part of something like this, something that’s been around for 20 years,” she said. “This is something special. I’m just happy that the league has been able to solidify itself and stay around for so long so that people like us who have grown up watching the league can actually get a chance to play in it.”


Photos courtesy of George Washington Athletics