Kansas State basketball coach Frank Martin had an interesting response to a question about junior guard Jeremy Jones on Thursday.
Jones, a junior college transfer who was considered to be one of the best around at Seward last year, is averaging 3.2 points, 0.9 rebounds and 0.8 assists for the Wildcats in a backup role. He has had his moments, such as a 10-point game against Howard and two good efforts in the Diamond Head Classic. But he has had several forgettable nights, too.
Anyway, when Martin was asked about his progress, he talked a little about Jones but also went on an amusing tangent about former Detroit Lions quarterback Scott Mitchell. Here it is:
“Jeremy is a good player,” Martin said. “Jeremy is still not as comfortable as he needs to be. The problem for him right now is that there are other guys on the team and those other guys are doing things a little bit better than him.
“I understand everyone always loves a guy who doesn’t play. I remember being a kid, I always loved the Dolphins’ backups. There was a guy named Scott Mitchell, and I always said, ‘God, he’s good.’ Every time they put him in, the game was over, he would complete five passes and everyone would say, ‘God is he good.’
“Detroit went out and signed him for a gazillion dollars and if he completed 10 passes for the Detroit Lions it was one too many. Everybody always loves a guy who doesn’t play. I understand that. I’ve been a fan, too. I understand how it works.
“Jeremy is a great kid. He’s trying his tail off. He’s still not at the same level as those other guys from an understanding standpoint, from a defensive or offensive standpoint. Our season is a long way from being over. If you saw the games where he was engaged a little bit, you saw that he can really help us. We need him to get engaged so he can help us a little bit.”
I like to think Mitchell has a Google alert set up for his name. Won’t he be surprised when he sees this?
I looked up Mitchell, and to his credit he performed slightly better with the Lions than Martin gave him credit for. He completed 1,049 passes during five seasons. Though he is best known as the guy who handed the ball off to Barry Sanders in the 90s, he had one mega year in 1995. That season he threw for 4,338 yards and 32 touchdowns while helping the Lions reach the playoffs.
As for Jones, it’s been a while since I’ve talked to him. But after he scored eight points against Southern Illinois last month in Hawaii, he told me he initially struggled a bit to adjust to K-State’s offensive style but that those struggles were behind him.
“I know I’m going to get an opportunity,” Jones said then, “and when I do I’ve just got to make the best of it.”