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OSU women's basketball: Jones working on 'simple stuff' to find early success

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Taylor Jones

Oregon State freshman Taylor Jones has gotten off to a fast start and is averaging a team-best 16.4 points per game in only about 20 minutes a game.  

When Taylor Jones stepped onto the Oregon State campus to begin her college basketball career, she knew she was going to need to learn a lot to get on the court.

And she was more than willing to put in that work.

It began with the details that the 6-foot-4 Jones said she never put much thought into as she was typically one of taller, if not the tallest player on the court in high school.

Some of her focus were on details such as posting up deep, using her legs instead of posting up with her arms and using her body to gain positioning. Other details included learning how to go after a rebound and being focused on boxing out.

“Just like the simple stuff that you kind of looked over in high school and you were able to because it was just easy,” Jones said. “Now you're competing against grown women and you have to do all the little things in order to be successful. I'm still working on a bunch of that stuff but I still have a long way to go. But hopefully I'm getting better at all those.”

Jones has gotten off to a sensational start and has filled a void that was missing most of last season — a strong offensive force in the paint.

Jones has started all five games for the No. 7 Beavers, who are off to a 5-0 start, and is averaging a team-best 16.4 points per game — just ahead of Mikayla Pivec’s 16.2 — in only 20 minutes on the court.

She has made 33 of 53 shots, good for 62.3 percent, and is averaging 6.4 rebounds a game to go with 11 blocks.

Jones admits she’s a bit surprised with her fast start. Her success, though, is not what is important.

“I wasn't expecting for stuff to start off this well, and I'm happy that it's going the way it is,” she said. “But as long as we keep on winning, and I'm going to try to do my best to help the team win, so as long as we keep on doing that then I'm fine.”

While she has had plenty of success, Jones knows that she hasn’t had to face a true back-the-basket type post player, or one that is able to match her size.

That could change come Friday when the Beavers head to Miami to take on the No. 19 Hurricanes and redshirt senior Beatrice Mompremier, a 6-4 preseason All-American.

Mompremier leads the Hurricanes (4-1) in scoring (20.2) and rebounds (10.2) and is shooting 56.9 percent from the field (37 of 65).

Jones knows the challenge is coming.

“Something that's going to be hard is playing against a much bigger girl, probably built like me, and having to battle against her,” she said. “I think that'll be a good challenge and I'm excited to play against a player like that.”

Maybe the biggest challenge to date has been on the defensive end of the floor. Jones admits she didn’t realize how much goes into defense at the college level, but thanks to coach Scott Rueck and assistant Katie Faulkner, she does now.

“It's challenging and they're throwing me to the wolves and I'm trying my best to stay good on defense and so hopefully that'll improve a lot in the next few weeks,” Jones said “I've definitely been working on that. Katie's been driving that in my head and so has Scott.”

Jones knows the history of the talented players who have come before her at her position and that was a big draw for her choosing the Beavers. She makes sure to watch as much film as possible on Marie Gulich, who wrapped up her career in 2018 and was drafted in the first round of the WNBA draft that year.

“I saw where she was at her freshman year and saw where she was as a senior and that's who I want to be,” Jones said. “Like my game, I want it to be exactly like her. When I go and watch film, I ask Katie, 'can I watch film of Marie playing defense, Marie playing offense' because that's exactly what I want to be like.

“Just knowing that Scott was able to develop her gives me hope of what he could do to me and Kennedy (Brown) and Jelena (Mitrovic) when she gets back and Trish (Patricia Morris) and all the posts. I'm just really excited for these next four years.”

Having Brown (6-6), Mitrovic (6-9), Morris (6-7) and senior Maddie Washington (6-1) around her should help quicken her development as they offer different looks in the post.

“It's just amazing having a bunch of post players," Jones said. "Like if we need a scout day we have many people that we can scout against. If we need a tall player we have Trish and Kennedy, if we need somebody who's short but fast we have Maddie, if we have someone who goes over their shoulder to do a jump hook we have Maddie or Kennedy or honestly me or Trish. So it's just a lot of diversity and really good competition.”


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Copy desk editor

Sports editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald

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