Three years ago to this day, basketball players representing the University of Texas were informed that their teammate, second-year guard Andrew Jones, had been diagnosed with leukemia.
On Saturday, Jones marked the anniversary by making the triple game winner for the Longhorns in a road win against No. 14 West Virginia, extending his undefeated start in the Big 12 Conference.
Today 3 years ago, Texas coach Shaka Smart informed his players of Andrew Jones’ cancer diagnosis.
Jones completed his treatment last year.
Today, he hit a winning basket to defeat No. 14 West Virginia.pic.twitter.com/eHWmnmwgJG
– Sports News (@sportingnews) January 9, 2021
MORE: Andrew Jones of Texas scores career-high 20 points in exchange for leukemia
The Longhorns trailed by two in the final half minute and gave up two offensive rebounds as West Virginia maneuvered for a shot that could provide the closing points. But after the second of those, Mountaineers forward Emmitt Matthews Jr. opted to kick back rather than come off the post for a chance to kill the remaining 10 seconds. He was fouled and missed both free throws.
When freshman Greg Brown recovered for the Horns, he sent the ball to guard Courtney Ramey, who ran the ball down the left side of the court. Jones found an open space in the right corner. When four WVU defenders collapsed to stop Ramey’s advance, Ramey slipped a beautiful pass to Jones, who comfortably scored a 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds left.
The Longhorns were quick to congratulate Jones on that shot, and it seemed more than celebrating a game winner.
“I’m even excited to see him come out on the court and play,” coach Shaka Smart told reporters after the game. “Where we were three years ago, and the way everyone on our show felt, is a feeling of helplessness. When we have the opportunity to see him in the hospital, he feels a hole in his stomach.
“I don’t know many guys who could do what he did, from a scrapping point of view and scratching his way back.”
Oh, there is more. After missing 25 games that season while receiving treatment for the disease, missing 35 games in 2018-19 to continue treatment and returning to the Longhorns last season to help them achieve a 19-12 record and third place in the Big 12, Jones passed the 1,000-point career scoring mark in Saturday’s 72-70 victory. He finished with 16 points and 4 of 7 triples.
Jones played just two college games from January 2017 through November 2019, and was still able to contribute 11.5 points per game last season. He’s improved that to 13.1 points this year, though his 3-point shooting accuracy has been a bit off. Until Saturday, anyway.
“All glory to God for allowing me to be here and play the game that I love,” Jones tweeted. “Thanks also to my teammates and all my fans. Let’s move on. “
Texas superfan Matthew McConaughey is named Jones “Athlete of the year” for their heroics.
Smart said: “He kept saying, ‘I’m going to come back and play.’ The rest of us said, ‘We will be happy if you can recover healthy.’ I think that helped him from a motivational point of view. I don’t think anyone is surprised that he made that shot. “
He’s done more important things, you know.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.