Our #1 top returning (non-freshman) guard to watch in the ACC hasn’t actually played in the conference yet. Carlik Jones spent three years dominating the Big South with the Radford Highlanders, and now he’s looking to succeed Jordan Nwora as the do-it-all guard for the Louisville Cardinals. While the Big South is no ACC, Carlik Jones was rated as one the most efficient players in the country and, outside of Luka Garza, he was the highest-rated returning Power-5 player. Looking at Jones’ stats and game log, it’s not hard to see why – he quite simply does it all.
After averaging 11.8 points per game his freshman year, Jones averaged 15.8 in his sophomore year, but he shot just 25% from three-point range. His junior season, the Radford star put it together, shooting 41% from beyond the arc and averaging 20 points a game to go with 5.1 rebounds (3rd on the team) and a squad-leading 5.5 assists. From his 31 point, 6 rebound effort in the season-opener, Jones was on fire out of the gate. He played two games against Power-5 competition (Northwestern and Mississippi State) and combined for 35 points and 14 assists. Against James Madison, Jones was just a single rebound shy of a triple-double – 23 points, 10 assists, and 9 boards.
Against the Big South, Jones tortured virtually every opponent, putting up video game numbers all season. Defensively, he was a lockdown defender, picking the locks on the hands of a bevy of Big South ball handlers. In the conference tournament quarterfinals, Jones poured in twenty-one points, collected nine boards, dished out six assists, and notched four steals. The Radford guard didn’t score under 15 points in the final two months of the season, leading the Highlanders to a 15-3 conference record and split of the regular season title. Now, Jones is on to bigger things, as he heads to Louisville, who certainly knows how to use a versatile guard, after enjoying the talents of Nwora for several seasons.
Jones has proven over three-years he’s capable of being the go-to-guy for a successful basketball team, and now he’s taking his talents to the ACC, where the dynamic floor general will look to continue to ball out in the best basketball conference in America.