'A silent assassin' steps up for Hannibal Pirates

Hannibal sophomore Dezi Jones elevates to shoot the ball during an away game this season.
Posted: Dec. 20, 2016 12:30 pm

Hannibal sophomore Dezi Jones isn’t a guy who feels the need to talk up his game.

Rather, the captain lets his play on the court speak for itself.

It’s for this reason coach Doug Coleman calls the standout guard "a silent assassin."

Jones has averaged 20 points and five assists per game this season to lead Hannibal. Night in and night out, he has been the Pirates' top scorer. The most recent evidence of that came during a North Central Missouri Conference loss at Moberly, when Jones dropped 29 and shot 12-of-15 from the field.

His success during the season is directly linked to the work he puts in during the offseason, Coleman said.

"He's shooting a high percentage, getting lots of assists, but I think Dezi's story really starts in the offseason," he said. "He is one that whether it's a Hannibal open gym or at the Y or working with coach (Matt) Pugh — he's the first guy in the gym and the last out."

Jones, who wears No. 1 for the Pirates, is thrifty with the ball in his hands and confident when releasing it for long-range shots.

"His strengths are pretty unique," Coleman said. "He's great with the ball, and he does have great instincts on defense too so he gets a lot of steals and creates offense for himself that way. Those things are just him being aware on the court."

For all the fanfare some high-scoring players might chase, Jones talks about his rise as a team leader this season with a workmanlike attitude.

"I've been getting better, being a leader and scoring," he said. "Just working hard."

Jones said he likes drawing attention from opposing defenses in order to create opportunities for his teammates.

"Most teams watch the film and they double team me, and that gets me aware of where my teammates are," Jones said. "I can find the open guy."

If there's something that challenges Jones most, it's being a captain on a team where many players have seniority over him. The other two captains — Noah Zahn and Trevor Watson — are both seniors.

Jones calls it a "special" leadership position to have.

Coleman said he hopes the role will break the sophomore out of his shell.

"As a sophomore, I'm really pushing him vocally to continue to lead, especially on defense," Coleman said. "We're looking for him to rise with his vocal ability and continue to lead us that way."

Going forward, Jones figures to continually be a key component for Hannibal, a program trying to reverse a trend of losing seasons and turn back into a winner.

"We have to develop a winning culture," Coleman said. "Our seniors are really committed to making sure these young guys behind them are aware that we're trying to turn this thing around. I think Dezi is going to lead that charge."

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