Hand in Hand – QNS.com

Hand in Hand

When it was time to pick a high school, Sheldon Jones was not looking for what school offered him the best basketball opportunity. Maintaining a 90 average at Louis Armstrong Middle School in East Elmhurst, he was most interested in academics, so he picked Townsend Harris.
In an ironic twist, the Flushing school has given him the best of both worlds.
After a frustrating first season in the ‘A’ division - the Hawks went 0-14 - Jones has helped them become one of the area’s best ‘B’ programs after citywide realignment. A season after going 12-2 and sharing the Queens-B East crown with Robert Kennedy, they are 11-0 and Jones is sixth in the city in scoring (and first in Queens), averaging 26.9 points per game. The 6-foot-1 guard is also grabbing eight rebounds per game and 8.8 assists.
“The majority [of our success] is because of him,” Harris Coach Frank DeNunzio said.
However, those statistics are of secondary importance to his mother, Elovene Jones, who works for New York City’s Department of Finance Human Resources division. His 88 average at Harris, one of the top academic schools in the city, are most important. Raised in the West Indies, Elovene Jones had to pay for her education, so she instilled what a benefit a free one is to her son.
When he started playing basketball in the seventh grade, she made sure he kept on top of his schoolwork. If Jones brought home less than a 90 average, he did not play. At Harris, she allows an 88.
“We basically focus on education and basketball is secondary,” she said.
It is a close second. DeNunzio lauds Jones for his court vision, leadership and basketball IQ. He has learned when - and how - to take over games. In the biggest test yet, at Robert Kennedy January 7, a city finalist last March, the Hawks were struggling at halftime, barely ahead. When play resumed, he took over, making shot after shot, on jumpers and drives to the basket.
“He came out in the third quarter and just exploded,” said DeNunzio. “They couldn’t stay with him. It was like he came out of a rocket.”
That Jones is able to keep basketball and academics balanced evenly at such a school, however, may be his most impressive attribute and certainly one that colleges will be looking at. So far, he has received letters from only Division II and Division III programs, but depending on how far Harris advances in the playoffs, the more notoriety he will garner. Moreover, Jones plays AAU basketball with several Thomas Edison players on NYC Finest, another place his developing game will be noticed.
DeNunzio is confident his best player can play in either of the higher two divisions, ‘A’ or ‘AA’. As a freshman, against the best programs in Queens like Cardozo and Thomas Edison, he averaged 15.5 points per game. Furthermore, the Hawks are 4-1 against ‘A’ league competition, games dominated by Jones.
“Because of last year, he has been double-teamed a lot, and he’s still putting up phenomenal numbers,” DeNunzio said.
There have been times Jones has thought about transferring, particularly during his freshman year. The amount of work can be daunting. A light night is four hours; on most others, he is up until 2 a.m. But he continues on.
“I think about it all the time, but it’s going to pay off at the next level,” he said. “It makes me feel good at the end of the day when I see my report card and see our team having a good season.”
“The fact that he does both so well, I’m amazed at that,” Elovene Jones said.

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