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Jarrod Jones Hits the Job Market

Jarrod Jones can give Ball State basketball fans something to cheer about Thursday if NBA teams give the man a chance.

This Thursday may be a big night for Ball State, but for Jarrod Jones it is going to be a big night no matter what.

Whether you love the NBA draft or not Ball State can use the positive news of Jarrod Jones getting picked. Let’s face it, the winter and spring sports seasons did not go according to plan. With the both the women’s basketball and baseball coaches resigning along with the men’s basketball coach under fire it’s been a long six months of 2012 for Ball State sports.

Sure, the softball team won the conference regular season title and men’s volleyball upset Ohio State at home but the bad has outweighed the good.

The NBA draft is a chance to break the streak. If Jones is picked then maybe fans go from burying the basketball teams to a positive spin for next season. Heck, Billy Taylor will have the “I recruited and coached and NBA draft pick” defense the next time fans call for his head. For Ball State to produce a draft pick it is a big deal, no matter when he is drafted.

If Jones does not get drafted fans have to wait for the football opener to snap the streak of negativity in 2012 and we all know that Eastern Michigan is not a sure thing anymore.

I know many Ball State fans have their doubts about Jones in the NBA. Hearing his name on mock drafts or seeing scouts in Worthen Arena appeared to give fans more puzzling looks than excitement.

There is a market for Jones. His senior season he developed his jump shot to the point where he was launching threes. A 6’9’’ guy who pushes defenders to the perimeter has potential value as a power forward in the NBA. Tall men who can shoot are hard to come by giving Jones a chance to be drafted.

The video below show Jones doing everything he can to bring Ball State back in their game with IUPUI. Jones scores, rebounds, and is fouled inside a minute of action. Ball State would go on to lose in what turned out to be the final game in Conseco before it was renamed Banker’s Life.

On the negative side one could say that since Jones was focusing on his jumper he lost his aggressiveness as a post player senior year. Detractors also point out his relatively skinny frame will hinder him more in the NBA than it did in college. It was frustrating to watch opponents put less talented big men on Jones but were able to guard him because of their girth. This was the result of Jones having to play center or the five spot even though his body was suited for the four. Jones was pretty much the only big the Cardinals could roll out to play that position so he was forced to guard players with weight advantages. When he played with the added muscle of Malik Perry junior year the Cardinals had more success.

Jones does not have to worry about being double teamed as often in the NBA. MAC coaches gave Jones first priority as defenders would swarm every time he touched the ball. If Ball State’s guards failed to hit jumpers, Jones did not have a chance to reach his potential. Jones will not be the only threat on his new NBA team. Then again what if he gets drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats?

I would love my Pacers to draft him. Jones has to be better than say Jeff Pendergraph. If you do not know who that is that is the point. Sadly, Indiana traded their second rounder to Toronto to rent Leandro Barbosa for three months enabling him to commit turnover after turnover against the Miami Heat. How did that work out?

Turn this ship around Jones. For the first time I will be watching the second round of the NBA draft like it is a playoff game.

The Best Peacemaker in College Football, Jamill Smith

Jamill Smith at spring practice. Not many can pull off wearing No. 2.

Junior wide receiver Jamill Smith may be the happiest player on the team.

“It is what I dreamed of. I always knew that I wanted to play for a college around my area,” Smith said. “Helping out my community and giving them positive role models.”

Smith played quarterback, cornerback, kick returner, and punt returner for Muncie Southside. Regular guys like us call that insane. He even held the ball for the field goal attempts. He broke school records for career passing and rushing touchdowns as he placed the Rebels on his shoulders.

Despite the statistics colleges only cared about his undersized frame. He had to walk-on to play at Ball State. Not giving the local offensive star a scholarship right way is just another scar on the Stan Parrish era, but that is history. After a red-shirt season Smith earned a scholarship in 2010 and saw plenty of action as a sophomore in Lembo’s first season. He recorded 32 receptions and three touchdowns receiving while averaging 24.2 yards per kick return.

“Its been with me my whole life being the smallest on every team I was on,” Smith said. “So I’ve just been using it to my advantage trying to prove people wrong.”

Smith has added seven pounds in the offseason to get up 145 pounds. While at 138 pounds Smith was told he was the smallest player in all of the FBS a year ago.

Maybe he still is?

Hard to forget those dreads.

No matter what his dimensions are Smith can benefit Ball State tremendously by bridging the gap between the school and the Muncie community.

“There is no relationship between Muncie and Ball State,” Smith said “In the future that is what we are trying to do. Get the community to all of our games and support all of Ball State athletics.”

As a Muncie outsider I am still trying to learn the relationship between Ball State and Muncie. I was spoiled being born in Lexington, Kentucky. I assumed that all college towns were passionate about their school the way Lexington is about its Cats. I just thought Muncie would be like that on a smaller scale.

Boy was I wrong when I came to campus as a freshman. The only people who cared about Ball State are alumni and students. To make matters worse, most of Ball State’s student body and alums are teachers who view college athletics as a headache on the education system.

Ball State faculty typically live in the Yorktown and Delta school districts. Some even commute from Indianapolis. If you are Muncie Central and Muncie Southside how do you not take offense to Ball State  professors saying they would rather waste gas and hours a week commuting from counties away than live in your city?

Ball State wonders why Muncie does not come out to its events or why the Star Press is not their buddy? If I grew up in Muncie would I want to read positive articles in the paper about Ball State? The school has enough PR and advertising campaigns doing that for them. I guess reading negative press on the school would be a form of “sticking it to the man” so to speak.

The school has to boast its achievements to attract students, but over time flaunting becomes highly annoying to those in Muncie. Especially when Muncie has lost the things it used to flaunt like the auto industry and the Ball Corporation.

There is plenty to this relationship that I do not understand, but I do know it will take more time to heal old wounds than most are willing to admit.

Smith celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown against Army last season. Hey Ball State plays Army again this year.

Lembo ended the insulting practice of having the team stay in Noblesville on the eve before home games. He has also been extremely open to the community.

But that is just a start, nothing more; like adding an ex-girlfriend on Facebook in an attempt to rekindle the relationship.

This is where Smith comes into play.

If Muncie and Delaware County can not get excited about their small soldier playing at Scheumann Stadium than there is little hope.

“When I was in high school we came to every [Ball State] game,” Smith said. “I know [friends] look at me and say ‘Jamill is playing so we should go watch it.’”

My friends at a local church can only name three Ball State players. Keith Wenning and Kelly Page are common, but the name I hear the most is Smith. A friend of mine who played on the Yorktown football team boasted about sacking Smith to give Yorktown a win over Southside years ago.

He gave his body to Muncie Southside playing every reasonable position. Now he is trying to give those fans a reason to come back to Ball State.

It will not be easy. Smith has to perform well on the field. If bigger receivers take snaps away from him than nothing will change. Heck, if that happens than relations could get worse.

Delta quarterback Ozzie Mann can have the same chance to improve relations in the future but he has to wait for Wenning to graduate.

Smith is simply everything a Ball State fan can ask for. Hard working, determined, intelligent, a speed king, and by God he is local.

“My end goal is make Ball State and Muncie a connection and get Ball State back to where it was [2008],” Smith said.

Muncie will be watching Smith and may the odds be ever in his favor.

Merry Christmas BSU Fans!

This is only my second post with OTP and with Christmas it is time to bring out the big guns. I recorded this video from the stands with my roommate during Ball State’s 31-27 win over Central Michigan, and yes it is personally embarrassing. Especially the last three seconds. Making fun of myself is one of the few skills I am an expert at.

The quality is shaky but you can clearly see Sean Baker’s interception. You can also see Ball State Athletic Director Tom Collins celebrating on the sideline of the end zone.

If this video does not bring a smile to Ball State fans I do not know what will.  It is the best Christmas gift I have to offer. “Take that Chippeawas. That’s what you get for having an offensive Indian nickname.”

Meet Johntell Franklin

Johntell Franklin has had a pretty remarkable week. Franklin is smack in the middle of what might end up being the feel good sportsmanship story of the year, and certainly the most heart-warming one so far in 2009.

Franklin, a senior basketball and football player at Milwaukee Madison High School turned tragedy and sadness with the loss of his mother into a story of sportsmanship, compassion, and all of the good things about sports. The most pertinent side of this story is that Franklin, a senior linebacker on the Madison football team is receiving quite a look from one Ball State University.

Amidst stories of poor judgment, even worse character, steroids and all other inherently awful things in the world of sport, this story, these teams and this young man find themselves learning exactly what sport and competition is supposed to teach us.

The full story can be found here.

A little excerpt…

At first, Johntell Franklin just wanted to watch his friends play basketball.

“I wanted to go and support my team,” said Franklin, an 18-year-old senior at Milwaukee Madison High School. “I’m a captain. I set an example.”

As it turned out, Franklin wound up teaching everyone in the Madison gymnasium a lesson – about friendship, about the value of sports, about themselves.

A somber cloud hung over the Knights as they played DeKalb, Ill., High School on Saturday, Feb. 7. News spread quickly that Franklin’s mother, Carlitha, had died earlier that day after a five-year battle with cervical cancer. She was 39.

Madison coach Aaron Womack Jr. was in Madison’s laundry room, washing the Knights’ uniforms from the previous night’s game, when he got the news.

“I didn’t have my cell phone with me back there, so by the time I heard, the junior varsity game had already started,” Womack said. “I headed straight to the hospital. Johntell, understandably, he was despondent.”

Carlitha Franklin had been in remission recently. But Womack said she had begun to hemorrhage on Saturday morning – while Johntell was at Wauwatosa East High School, taking his college entrance ACT exam. By late Saturday afternoon, the decision had been made to turn off the life-support system.