Unhindered: Jones comes up big despite injured wrist


CW / Hannah Saad

Jack Kennedy | @JWkennedy24, Staff Reporter

Alabama fans held their collective breaths when they first saw junior forward Herbert Jones lying on the court, clutching his wrist, against LSU on Jan. 29.

Resulting from a fall on an alley-oop attempt early in the game, Jones immediately knew there was an issue with his left wrist, prompting Alabama men’s basketball athletic trainer Clarke Holter to attend to Jones. But after a two-minute trip to the bench, Jones was substituted back into the game with his wrist wrapped and proceeded to play 29 of the remaining 34 minutes of the game.

Upon return to Tuscaloosa the next day, MRI results concluded that Jones had fractured his left wrist and surgery was required in order to repair the fracture.

“I immediately thought I was done [for the season],” Jones said. “But they told me after the surgery that it would probably be three weeks, so it gave me a lot of hope.”

But Jones decided that three weeks was too long for him to see the floor in a stretch where the Crimson Tide needed him. Alabama had followed Jones’ surgery on Feb. 1 with two losses at home to Arkansas and Tennessee along with a narrow overtime win over Georgia.

Just a week and a half after undergoing surgery, Jones checked into the game at Auburn with a half-inch-thick hard cast on his wrist. He helped Alabama outscore Auburn by 13 points in the seven minutes he played, but the Tigers ended up defeating Alabama 95-91 in overtime.

Three days later, he gave the 12,479 fans in Coleman Coliseum on hand for the second matchup of Alabama versus LSU a memory that they will never forget.

With 1:39 remaining in the game and Alabama leading by just two, Jones stepped up to the line to attempt his first free throws following surgery. Normally a left-handed shooter, Jones steadied the ball in his right hand and took the shot. The ball clashed off of the front of the rim and then took a favorable bounce for Jones as it went into the basket to much of the crowd’s delight. In his second attempt, the ball hit nothing but the net, much to the delight of the Alabama fans.

The two free throws pushed Alabama’s lead to an insurmountable four points and helped Alabama secure the 88-82 victory over LSU.

“I wasn’t nervous because no one expected me to make a free throw with my right hand,” Jones said. “… I shot free throws that morning, after shootaround and pregame, so I just believed in all the work [I had put in].”

Usually upon reviewing film of a game, head coach Nate Oats does not like the listen to the announcers or crowd noise due to the distractions they create when attempting to break down his team’s play. However, following the LSU game, he could not help but turn the volume up on the film during Jones’ free throws to relive the moment that gave him goosebumps.

“The crowd recognized how valuable he was to us with how they cheered for some of his plays late in the game,” Oats said.

The process was not easy for Jones to return in such a short timeframe. In the days leading up to the Auburn game, Jones had a workout with the trainer and a graduate assistant on Sunday to see how his wrist would respond after surgery but he was so sore that he sat out of practice the two days prior to the game.

However, Jones believed he was healthy enough to play against Auburn and then eventually against LSU the following Saturday. Since his surgery, Jones has been in Coleman Coliseum around the clock whether it be rehabbing with Holter or working out on his own.

“Athletes who attack the rehab the way he does generally get good results,” Holter said. “I can have an aggressive plan, but if I don’t have an athlete that can reciprocate the aggressive plan then you typically don’t get the result you want… He has helped himself out due to his work ethic for sure.”

With six games remaining, Alabama will need Jones healthy in order to make a push to make the NCAA tournament. Prior to Jones fracturing his wrist against LSU, Alabama had rattled off four straight wins and Jones was averaging 11.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists in conference play.

In Alabama’s three homes losses to Penn, Arkansas and Tennessee, the Crimson Tide either did not have Jones available at all or he played limited minutes. The three losses were by a combined six points.

“We are going to control what we can control,” Oats said. “We are going to try as many as we can these last six games and then we have to go to Nashville and win as many as we can there. And then trust the work we have done [on Selection Sunday].”