On an uncharacteristically chilly Tucson night back in 2007, Jeff Jones was sizzling.
Jones, a freshman playing in just his third game, went 5 of 7 from 3-point range as Virginia won on the road at Arizona.
For Jones, that was about as good as it would ever get.
In the ensuing three seasons, Jones’ play was madly inconsistent. As a result, his playing time and role on the team fluctuated.
On Tuesday, Jones decided to pull the plug on his Virginia career. The 6-foot-4 junior guard announced he is transferring.
“I love everything about UVa and my teammates, and I also really appreciate the fans,” Jones told The Daily Progress.
“I’ve been the most positive person for the last three years. I just think that this is the best move for me. I want to wish the whole UVa family the best of luck.”
Jones is the third player to leave the UVa program with eligibility remaining this offseason. Last month, guard Sylven Landesberg announced that he was departing early for the NBA draft, and guard/forward Tristan Spurlock decided to transfer.
“He just felt that it was time to move on from Virginia,” said Jones’ father, Jeff Jones, Sr. “He liked the coaches and he liked the program.
“He just felt like it wasn’t a great fit. He still likes coach Bennett and his staff and his teammates and everything, but he just felt like for the last year it wasn’t a good fit.”
During his three years in the Virginia program, Jones played in 90 games, starting 41. He averaged 6.2 points and 1.6 rebounds a game.
Coming out of Monsignor Bonner High School, Jones was the Philadelphia Catholic League’s all-time leading scorer. Originally, Jones committed to Maryland before changing his mind and signing with former Virginia coach Dave Leitao.
Jones showed flashes of offensive power in his first three years, but was never able to become the consistent threat that people had hoped.
This past season, his playing time, as it had been throughout his career, was sporadic.
“Jeff informed me on Sunday that he would be transferring,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said in a press release. “Although I’m surprised, I’m not shocked and wish Jeff well in the future.
“Every player is entitled to do what he thinks is best for his future. Jeff obviously believes that is not UVa., and if a player feels that way it will not benefit him or the team.”
Jeff Jones, Sr., said that his son, in the wake of Leitao’s departure, actually thought about leaving following last season.
Jones Sr. said he was proud of the way his son conducted himself through tough times.
“He always has given 120 percent of effort,” he said. “In practice, he always remained positive no matter what. He just wanted a little better fit.”
Given Jones’ Philadelphia roots, it would not be surprising to see him transfer to a school in that area. Per NCAA rules, he would have to sit out a season.
However, Jones could play right away if he transferred to a Division II school — a possibility that he said he might consider.
“As far as going to another school, I want to go to a school with the best program that will give me the best chance to realize my dreams,” Jones said.
Jones said deciding to leave wasn’t easy. “It took me a while,” he said. “I definitely had to think about it for a long time.”
Jones’ career-high scoring game was a 26-point effort against Bradley in the CBI his freshman year. However, it’s not those kind of things that Jones will remember most.
“Just being with my teammates at the ACC [tournament],” said Jones, when asked if he had a career highlight. “I think that was my most memorable moment. I’ll miss those guys.”