Shooting guard James Jones will return to Manchester Giants for the 2019-20 British Basketball League (BBL) campaign, having recovered from the ankle injury that ruled him out for much of the second half of last season.
After four years away coaching in Canada, the 35-year-old former BBL treble-winner was just getting back into his stride in the last campaign – averaging 6 points and 2 assists per game while shooting 40% from three-point range – when his season was cruelly ended with an ankle injury against rivals Cheshire Phoenix in January. He had hit 3-3 three-pointers in the first quarter of that game, which Giants went on to lose.
Jones briefly returned for the last four games, knocking down three of his last five long range attempts, and is now fully recovered.
It will be a fourth campaign with Giants for the much-decorated local star, who previously averaged 14 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds per game to win the BBL’s British Player of the Season in 2013-14. Jones has also had stints with Guildford Heat – which included playing in Europe – as well as Plymouth Raiders and Mersey Tigers, where he won the BBL Championship, BBL Trophy and BBL Play-offs in 2010-11.
“We all feel like James has unfinished business from last year,” said Head Coach Danny Byrne. “Through the middle part of the season he had become absolutely instrumental in what we were doing as a team, most notably with two outstanding performances as we knocked Leicester and Newcastle out of the BBL Trophy.
“He brings experience and leadership that you just cannot account for in any other way, as well as that clutch ability to knock down a three-pointer from anywhere on the court just when we need it.”
James Jones added, “Overall last season was positive for the team, but it was also frustrating from a personal perspective. The extent of my injury was unfortunate, and part of the game, but had that not happened I feel that we would have made the playoffs comfortably.
“After a small operation my ankle feels good and I’m working to get myself prepared for the new season. I feel like I can still contribute at a high level and bring experience and leadership to the team.
“We want to progress from last season and maintain the competitiveness that we brought to every game. Danny is putting together a well-balanced team on paper and it will be up to us to come together and gel as a group. I’m looking forward to the new guys getting here and getting started.”