Derrick Jones has recently come into his own in the last two weeks when the team has needed his development most. Even though Stephen Zimmerman recently returned to the squad, other forward Ben Carter went out over a month ago with a knee injury.
Injuries are just one aspect that have plagued this program this year among a roller coaster of adversity, and now the word comes via press release from UNLV Athletics that Jones is "ineligible for further competition."
The basketball team sent out a release on the matter.
"UNLV was notified by ACT Testing that it had cancelled Derrick Jones Jr.'s ACT score; thereby, making him ineligible for further competition under NCAA rules. In the fall, he was declared eligible by the NCAA to compete this season. UNLV is in the process of reviewing the matter and its options with the relevant governing bodies to resolve the eligibility issues at hand. There will be no further comment by UNLV on the matter until it is resolved."
I can hear the general sighs of disbelief from Rebel fans now around the country. In such a season of tumult, and when UNLV has recently shown that they could make a bit of a run in the conference tourney next week, this news is a major disappointment.
Jones' lawyer, Don Jakcson, told The Sporting News that he is not to pleased how this has been handled and feels that this has been a racially motivated attack.
"The NCAA Eligibility Center has attempted to shift responsibility for this investigation to the ACT," said Jackson. "The reality of the matter is that a number of high profile minority student-athletes were specifically targeted by the NCAA Eligibility Center. Their use of NCAA legislation in a manner that is specifically intended to adversely impact African American and international student-athletes violates federal law."
Jackson adds that this is a "blatant, calculated effort to impact post-season play and to assure that UNLV plays without an important player in next week's post season tournament.'
This investigation on Jones have been ongoing for nearly a year.
Jones is the second leading scorer on the team with just over 11 points per game and he averages at least 4 rebounds each game as well. He shoots an impressive nearly 59% from the field. And, of course, he is best known for wowing crowds with hammering slam dunks.
No doubt, this is yet another major hitch in UNLV's unimaginably difficult season.