I know. Sounds like the home-state newspaper guy touting the home-state kid. But check the stats. They back my claim.
According to the NCAA statistics through Sunday's games, Jones was 10th nationally in scoring, averaging 20.7 points. Only one player who goes against comparable competition - Maryland's Terrell Stoglin - ranks higher. The nation's leading scorer was Damian Lillard of Weber State. My apologies to Damian, but he's not going to win the award.
Stoglin is fifth, preceded by players from Oakland, Creighton and Albany. After him and before Jones are players from Evansville, Lehigh, South Dakota State and Sacred Heart. Immediately after Jones are players from IUPUI, Central Connecticut State, etc., down to Vanderbilt's John Jenkins at No. 17.
Now, combine that with the rebounding numbers of Jones. After Sunday's games, he was No. 4 nationally. Again, there is but one player of national stature - Thomas Robinson of Kansas - ranked above the Mountaineer. Immediately below him are players from Delaware and UNLV, Arnett Moultrie of Mississippi State, Colorado's Andre Roberson, players from UNC-Wilmington and St. Mary's and Marshall's Dennis Tinnon.
Put the numbers together, combined with the level of competition against which Jones plays, and the Mountaineer is the clear leader at this point.
Yes, there's a but.
Jones will have to hurdle two very large obstacles. First, he's in the tent, but not in the main ring of the national hype circus: read ESPN. Second, he's not projected to be a high 2012 NBA draft choice, a la Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb of Connecticut, Anthony Davis of Kentucky, Harrison Barnes of North Carolina, Jared Sulliger of Ohio State and Robinson of Kansas. If any of those get hot, Jones' candidacy considerably cools.
If you ever questioned whether WVU made a good decision jumping to the Big 12, I submit one sentence for your consideration. It came via a Big East release, which announced Navy was joining the league for football beginning in 2015.
Says it: "In 2015, the Big East football membership will consist of Boise State, UCF, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Louisville, Navy, Rutgers, San Diego State, USF and SMU."
Ladies and gentlemen, I present Conference USA II.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvin...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.