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In basketball he scored 15.3 points a game in the 1980-81 season and has a 51% field-goal shooting percentage for his college career.
Jones' nose angles slightly off to an observer's right, even though his clear blue eyes look straight ahead. As recently as last spring, when he was 19, he had an almost delicate mobility to his features, augmented by a fluffy shock of sandy hair, but that is fading. "His main flaw then was that of showing his emotions when he played," says Hergert. "When he made a mistake, he let his frustration affect him." Now, as Jones gets his feelings under control, his face is taking on a more impassive firmness. The eyes remain transparent, however, curious and intent.
"I like action, always action," he says while walking across the thickly wooded Lewis and Clark campus. "I came here because they'd let me play both baseball and football. Everyone told me it was impossible to fit basketball in. But I played with the varsity during Christmas break my freshman year and held my own. Fred Wilson, the football coach and athletic director, said, 'Heck, give it a try....' "
Jones passes the 35-room, slate-roof mansion that forms the core of Lewis and Clark's 130 acres. "I've always been mildly defensive when I've been kidded about being a jock," he continues. "I love sport, but school is what I'm here for. It took a while to come to that. I got a 2.3 for winter term my freshman year, and I became a student that year. Now I understand school as sport. It's an event, a competition with myself." Such a remark, he is told, says a lot about his concept of competition.
"Yeah, but different sports call for different frames of mind. In school I don't really compete. I mean I learn as much as I can and let beating the rest of them come as it will."
It seems strange to learn that Jones, as devoted to multiplicity as he is, already has had to abandon at least one calling, specifically a sport he loves more than any he now plays. "Hockey," he says, "I wish I hadn't given it up." He played it from age nine through his junior year of high school, not on an interscholastic team but in the Portland Amateur Hockey Association. By his senior year, he had been identified by NHL scouts as a solid pro prospect. "I don't regret coming to college," says Jones, "but I'll never know what might have happened if I'd continued hockey." He holds his hands spread before him, palms down, looking at them as if out of each finger a different future runs.
Until recently Jones lived, as most Lewis and Clark underclassmen do, in a dormitory. He had a corner room in a suite in Forest Hall; from the window could be seen Mt. Hood to the east and, farther north, Mt. Saint Helens. He shared the lodgings with three others, and the room was densely strewn with ski poles, stereo equipment, beer steins, forest-service road signs and a wandering Jew plant. Clearly, having once rejected specialization, Jones was resisting all further suggestions of it.
"I've been told that there will come a time when I'll have to make a choice," he says, with no resignation in his voice. "If so, then I'll choose. And if I fail at that one, then I'll choose again. But I'm not in school for that. I'm here to learn and to take life as it comes for a while."
Different sports, he'd said, call for different frames of mind: "A football game is the most intensely exciting for me. You build up all week for a single game, while in baseball or basketball you play all the time. Also football demands a clearer head. You're using called plays, each with an exact number of steps and moves, so it takes more discipline than basketball where the thing is flow and reacting to developments. Baseball is relaxing. You hit and field and have a good time."
Oddly, considering Jones' addiction to and adeptness at football, he didn't play the game until his senior year at Marshall High in Portland. "I did soccer and hockey until then." he says. He also was a member of the National Honor Society, was senior class president and, after baseball season was over his final year, entered the 100-meter dash in the city meet. "I got second in my heat at 11.2, but then..."—the memory produces a rueful wince—"...I got disqualified for two false starts in the finals. But I don't know if I would've gone to the state meet even if I'd qualified. My prom was the same weekend and I'd made promises."