How Tione Jones went from basketball manager to player

Tione’s reactions are always a sight to see.

Kaitlin Sells

Tione Jones, senior guard from Gwinnett County, wasn’t always part of the number three Sun Belt ranked basketball team in a way you would think- he was team manager for three years prior.

The 5 foot 8 inches guard has always loved basketball. Being around the game every day, being around the players every day, he figured why not take a chance.

“[It] made me realize, why am I not doing this for my school, or why am I not try to be on the team,” Jones said about where his motivation to work to be an official Eagle came from. “I love the game, I’ve got a passion for it. My dad loves it, my sister, she enjoys it, my mom enjoys it, and I just love being around the game.”

Teammates were glad to see Jones join the team as well, as he had been around them for so long and had been such a positive influence for the Eagles as a whole.

“It was exciting,” BJ Gladden, fellow senior teammate, said about what it was like having Jones join them for their final season. “Tione brings a lot of excitement and fun, he’s a sense of humor type of guy. He’s positive on and off [the court], and he’s never down about anything.”

And what some people don’t realize is that while Jones might have only been an “official” Eagle for his last year, he’s always had an effect on the team.

“He deserves it, he’s been around the program for a couple of years now,” senior guard Mike Hughes said. “He’s definitely a spark to our team and really the heart of our team and nobody knows it. I’ve never seen him have a bad attitude, he never doubts us.”

Looking at Jones’s journey, a question that might surface is where did the transition from manager of three years to player come from? Head coach Mark Byington talked about how he knew Jones wanted to be on the team, how it was a dream of his.

“He’s been such a good person, and a positive influence even when he was a manager that I was happy to help his dream come true” Byington said. “It’s great to have an all-conference player because they do a lot for you, but it’s also great to do something to help someone’s dream come true.”

And once that dream came true for Jones, it was an amazing moment.

“He smiled about as big as you can smile. He shook my hand, and you could tell that it was something he always wanted,” Byington said about Jones’ initial reaction when he found out he made the team for his senior year.

“It was a real moment because it’s a moment you really dream about,” Jones said.

“I was excited, I didn’t know whether to cry, do a backflip, or do anything like that.”

{{tncms-inline account=”Josh Cavender” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Congrats on the big W! Keep dancin all night in the Boro! <a href="https://twitter.com/GSAthletics?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GSAthletics</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/GaSouth_CoachB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GaSouth_CoachB</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/chadlunsford?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@chadlunsford</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Coach_Cab?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Coach_Cab</a> <a href="https://t.co/1DZyrjN0Me">pic.twitter.com/1DZyrjN0Me</a></p>— Josh Cavender (@jcavend1) <a href="https://twitter.com/jcavend1/status/964717700592357376?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 17, 2018</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/jcavend1/status/964717700592357376″ type=”twitter”}}

With tomorrow being the last home game for Tione, Byington takes a look back on the impact Jones had on the team this season.

“He has a great energy about him, and he’s a positive influence with his personality,” Byington said. “He has leadership qualities. He’s helped the other guys prepare to get ready to play games on the scout team.”

From manager to team player, Tione Jones achieved a dream of his and made an impact while doing it.

With some work and persistence, he became a positive influence for the team, a motivator, and in the end, the heart of the team that everyone recognizes as the Eagles.

Kaitlin Sells, The George-Anne sports reporter, [email protected]