Mizzou Tight End Turned Hoopster

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COLUMBIA -- Andrew Jones was a four-time all state basketball player at Smithville High School near Kansas City but his ticket to division one athletics was on the football field...or so he thought.

His college football career started fast his freshman season and it included a seven catch contest at Iowa State, but as time passed Andrew Jones found himself down the depth chart catching fewer passes each season.

"I'm not mad about it or upset or anything," Jones said, "I enjoyed my four years. It's four years nobody can take away from me."

And just when Jones thought his athletic career was concluding Mizzou basketball came calling.

"He called and asked me if I wanted to join the team. I said sure, obviously. I'd love to join the team," said Jones.

In December Jones juggled hoops and hash marks, sometimes he even had both in the same day.
After the football bowl game Jones settled full time back into basketball.

"Everyone else on my team is at home on Christmas break on vacation doing something," said Jones. "I'm staying here and it's fun still getting to play sports."

Don't mistake Jones for a scoring machine. He brings a gridiron mentality to the hardwood.

Jones said, "If I can come out here and grab one rebound and foul someone real hard and make the fans go crazy that would be a win for me."

"He's getting his shooting touch back," senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe. "He hit a couple of jumpers in practice and it's fun to see when he scores because he celebrates like it's still football. Yeah... yeah."

In the game against William & Mary, Jones got fouled and had the chance to score his first points in any sport and in his college career.

"I either thought it was going to be an airball or I was so amped up I was going to throw it through the backboard," Jones said.

Ratliffe said, "Coach uses him as an example of how to be enthusiastic all the time."

Jones has never had an issue with enthusiasm, as for the wind sprints...

"It's a lot harder than I thought it was going to be." Jones said, "I've been training for one sport for four years and now I need to come train for another sport."

But he's not complaining, he realizes he's no average Jones.

"I know in a couple of years I would beat myself up if I didn't grab the opportunity to do this. It is rare and I feel honored that I get a chance to do it," Jones said.

So far this season Jones has scored three points, all on free throws.

Justin Gage is the last football player to dabble part-time on the basketball court. He played three season including the 2001-02 season when Mizzou made it to the elite eight.