Boys' Basketball: Hard work pays off for Woodbury's Michael Jones
If you are looking for Woodbury junior Michael Jones during summer break, the high school gymnasium is one of the first places you would check.
Head coach Kent Getzlaff made no hesitation in explaining just how much work Jones has put in during the offseason. He estimates that the junior takes about 500 practice three-pointers during an average workout day during the summer. In a typical day during the season, that number is 250 shots.
“He wears out the shooting machine,” Getzlaff said. “He just wears it out.”
The hard work has paid off for Jones this season as he has positioned himself as one of the state’s most consistent scorers. Jones has averaged 25.5 points per game this season in the first 21 games, putting him in the top 10 among Class 4A scorers. The stat includes a season-high 39 points in Woodbury’s 92-83 win at home against Edina.
Numbers like this do not happen by accident.
“He’s put himself in a good position to turn himself into a scorer because he’s really worked on his ballhandling,” Getzlaff said. “Now he’s comfortable making one-on-one moves to get to the basket.”
Once a youth baseball player, Jones decided in eighth grade to spend more time focusing on basketball during the spring and summer. Jones has played AAU basketball with the Minnesota Fury for the past two years and is planning to do so again this summer.
Modestly, the junior has credited Woodbury’s offensive system in becoming a well-rounded player.
“The structure of our offense really encourages getting to the basket,” Jones said. “So three years in the system, and it’s just the experience with the guys, and the offense and the team.”
The Woodbury junior hopes to play college basketball when he graduates from high school and has drawn interest from both Division II and I schools. Jones has already received one Division II scholarship offer, and he has been in communication with other programs. Interested teams include Division I Drake and the University of Northern Iowa.
In the immediate future is Woodbury’s pursuit to win the Suburban East Conference championship and compete for a Class 4A, Section 4 title. The Royals stand at the top of the SEC standings with only one loss in conference play, but important games on the schedule this week include matchups with second-place teams East Ridge and Cretin-Derham Hall.
Woodbury, East Ridge, and Cretin-Derham Hall are all in a position to compete for a Class 4A, Section 4 title, along with a three-loss Tartan team.
But the Royals have set up a challenging schedule to prepare themselves for the stretch run.
“We’re ready for the big games,” Jones said. “We’ve played in three overtime games, and we’ve won all of them. It’s definitely a bonus late in the year to be that experienced in big games.”
Last year the Royals had a breakout season and finished with a record of 24-4. But the season ended in disappointment with a 97-87 overtime loss to North St. Paul in the section semifinals.
With some extra experience, Jones is confident about his team’s improvements.
“I’m much more happy with where we are at right now just with the competition we’ve played so far,” he said.