Heritage junior Ed Jones is a cheater.
He knows that he needs help. But helping is part of the problem. He wants to help so much that he cheats.
Playing center for Heritage's first varsity basketball team, Jones has bought into Coach Mark Mallisham's system of help defense, which emphasizes assisting a teammate beaten by his man.
But sometimes, Jones wants to help a bit too much, cheating away from his own man, leaving him open under the basket.
"I'm learning not to cheat," said Jones, who is 6 feet 5. "I'll get beat on the back door, so coach is teaching me to stay on my feet and not go up for every shot and try to block it. I cut it down a little bit. Most of the time now, I cheat at the right time."
Jones played sparingly for Loudoun County last season. This season, he is starting for Heritage and, because of his height, will block plenty of shots.
"Hopefully, he can block a few shots, which is what I am trying to teach him right now," Mallisham said. "I'm just teaching him the basic fundamentals, as far as defense is concerned: scramble, half-court, man-to-man, how to help and recover."
Jones has been a rapt student but is still learning. He is making the transition from the perimeter, where he says he is more comfortable, to inside, where his size is better suited. Though the learning process is slow, Jones is confident it will pay off.
"I'm just learning how to play in the post," Jones said. "I'm not really the best post player. I'm more of an outside player, but coach is teaching me how to get my moves down, how to move my feet. And he's teaching me not to make stupid mistakes and to play smart."
One of Jones's mistakes is his tendency to try blocking every shot, so he is trying to temper his over-aggressiveness.
"I could get up and try to block the ball, but I wouldn't get the block every time, and sometimes I would get beat," he said. "Now, I stay on my feet and only jump when it's necessary, and I'll still get my good share of blocks this year."