Before Dillon Jones attended his first-ever college football game, he took in another college basketball practice.
The Carolina Coliseum was the first stop of the weekend for some of the state’s best prospects. Jones, a Keenan standout in the 2020 class, was joined by the likes of P.J. Hall (Dorman), Myles Tate (Dorman) and Trae Hannibal (Hartsville). The unofficial visit to South Carolina included the Georgia football game, sure, but also a sneak-peek at Frank Martin conducting a preseason workout for 2018-19 Gamecocks.
“I went to a practice last year,” Jones said, “before they offered me. He was intense, like everybody thinks he is. But I think what’s different, what people don’t know, he’s intense, but he also encourages you right after. So I think it’s just good coaching.”
Jones spoke to The State on Sunday after participating in a Big Shots showcase event at Heathwood Hall. Martin offered the versatile 6-foot-5 forward two weeks earlier. He’s since heard from a variety of other schools, including Wake Forest, but USC remains active in his recruitment.
Both Carolina coaches – especially assistants Chuck Martin and Bruce Shingler – and a Carolina commitment (Hannibal) were in Jones’ ear Saturday.
“They’re making me feel at home,” Jones said. “Bruce was joking with me, being like, ‘What are you waiting on?’ I really like Chuck and Bruce.
“And then Trae was recruiting me hard. Like, ‘Come on, man, what are you waiting on?’ That was stuff was good. That just made me feel at home.”
Jones, ranked fourth in the state among ‘20 prospects by Big Shots and Phenom Hoop Report, averaged 10.2 points and eight rebounds a game last season for Kennan. He holds other offers from College of Charleston, USC Upstate, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Presbyterian and South Carolina State.
Jones is joined on the same Upward Stars AAU team as Hall and Tate, a pair considered the state’s best in the ‘20 class. All three were among the 83,140 at Williams-Brice Stadium for UGA’s 41-17 win over USC.
“I had never been to a college football game,” Jones said. “It was great. It was crazy because they threw an interception early in the game and it like killed everybody a little bit, but when they scored the touchdown (on Deebo Samuel’s pass to Bryan Edwards), it like brought everybody back to life in a way.
“It was a good atmosphere, though. Everybody was so pumped up. Even though they lost, you could tell they’re still behind them. They’re still behind their team at the end of the day.”