It’s hard to write the Lucky Jones legacy story, but it’s worth trying with the recent news that Jones signed with Liege Basketball, a team in the top division in Belgium.
Was he ever the best player on his team? Was he an all-time great? An underachiever? A leader? Nothing is really ever black and white, and Lucky Jones is even less of an exception than most.
Lucky Jones is going into the RMU record books (photo via
It was never just about basketball when it came to Lucky. It was always “look at how much fun he’s having” while flashing that big grin. That’s kind of obvious joy can be rare. When people talk about Karvel Anderson, the first thing is, “wow that kid could shoot.” Lucky was always different like that.
That big smile could never do justice to his demeanor. Lucky was tough. So tough. His style of play was borderline reckless at times, throwing himself into the stands, hitting the floor for loose balls, and trading elbows with forwards and centers.
There’s such majestic nature that good rebounders have that others don’t. It’s not like being a good scorer, where consistent release points, footwork and your teammates floor spacing all matter. Rebounding is about 20 percent fundamentals, five percent athletic ability, and 75 percent pure hunger.
Really, Lucky was a guard. At 6-4, he had ideal shooting guard size. But this is the NEC, and 6-4 requires you to be a rebounder, and Lucky always took pride in that. He rebounded with a ferocity that just doesn’t make sense to some people. It’s a toughness and competition thing, and it’s why he’s the program’s all-time leading rebounder.
Competition, toughness, and Lucky have always gone together. Like the time he got into it with Wagner’s Mario Moody… his cousin. You could always see him yapping. Yapping to the guy he’s guarding, to the bench, to the guy who just committed a foul; there he was, with that big grin and enough talk for the team.
Lucky seemed poised to be a superstar. He appeared in every game his freshman year, breaking into the starting lineup nine times. He rebounded the hell out of the ball and proved his worth on the defensive end, showing the ability to guard almost every position on the floor. The shooting wasn’t quite there, but the mechanics were pretty. The future was bright.
There were signs of trouble in his sophomore season. The expectations rose but Lucky’s play didn’t necessarily match it at the beginning of the season. After lackadaisical home losses to Bryant and Central Connecticut State to begin conference play, Lucky was suspended for a game (against an awful FDU team) by Toole for poor practice habits.
Lucky came back from that suspension strong, shooting a ridiculous 54 percent from three over the last 19 games.
It’s worth noting that this is where things get confusing when you talk about Lucky Jones. Was Lucky really good his sophomore year? Yeah, but it took a suspension to refocus him, and that team was stacked. Velton Jones, Karvel Anderson, Coron Williams, and Russell Johnson were all of higher focus teams scouting reports.
That’s where Lucky thrived. When he had to be “the” guy, when teams could say “we have to shut down Lucky Jones”, things didn’t always go so well for him. That’s how things started for him this past season. Teams went into every game not worrying about a sniper like Karvel Anderson or even knowing who Marcquise Reed and Rodney Pryor were. The game plan was, “lets shut down Lucky Jones and let the rest fall in place” and they did.
That’s not meant to be some harsh criticism of an otherwise really good player. He couldn’t be “the” guy, but so what? He thrived when his teammates could take some pressure off of him, as do a lot of players. Maybe Lucky wasn’t as good as we expected, but in the right role, he excelled. It’s also worth noting that through whatever shooting struggles he might have had, he’s fourth on the programs all-time scoring list.
Unfortunately, some of the suspensions are part of the legacy too. It’s kind of easy to forget how quickly the ship was sinking this past year. Lucky missing games against CCSU and Sacred Heart could have cost the team the season had the suspension gone on longer. Everyone is happy he ironed things out with the coaches and players, but a senior shouldn’t have put himself in that position to begin with.
Listen, nobody here is perfect. I’m hardly one to write about the character of someone I barely know. Do I know what led to suspensions and misunderstandings? No, and I’m also not blind enough to see that these things happen everywhere in college athletics. Suspensions are part of the story but not even close to the whole thing. It is what it is, for better or worse.
When it comes down to it, Lucky Jones played his heart and soul out for Robert Morris. He cared about winning and he cared about the school, and those things are important. He played his best when the lights were brightest. He was the best player on the floor in the infamous RMU-Kentucky game (before getting ejected for the decapitation of Archie Goodwin), hit some huge three’s in the past NEC championship game, and iced RMU’s NCAA tournament win with clutch free throws against North Florida. His STUFF of Duke’s Jahlil Okafor in the NCAA tournament game was also great.
Overall, Lucky Jones was a winner. Four years, 92 wins.
What else beats that?