Earl Jones, Spingarn's two-time all-America basketball player, one of the most highly recruited high schoolers in the nation, said yesterday he may attend college for one or two years rather than going right into the pro ranks.
In an interview with The Washngton Post, the 6-foot-10 Jones said he hasn't ruled out the possibility of signing a pro contract but feels a "couple of years of college ball would be better for me."
Jones said he is interested in about 10 colleges, including the University of the District of Columbia and Maryland.
"I sort of changed my mind about jumping right into the pros," said Jones, who was a unanimous all-met selection this year while leading the Green Wave to a 24-2 record, the Interhigh and city championships and the No. 1 ranking in the metropolitan area. "Right now, I consider myself one of the best big men in the country. Anyway, I'd like to see a player who can outplay me in the middle."
Jones said he has visited UCLA and Nevada-Las Vegas and plans to visit several more schools following the Capital Classic game at Capital Centre March 29.
"Ucla was nice. It's a big school and they have most of their players back next year," said Jones. "Vegas is a bit too fast for me. Right now, I don't have a preference as to where I may go. I just want to play for a coach who will work with me. I want to go where the situation is right for me.
"I'm not partial to a big school just because it has the big name," Jones continued. "I want to go to a program where I can fit in. Sure, I look at the schools in the NCAA but then there are a lot of schools who made the tournament I never heard of. Right now, I guess any of them have a shot at me."
William (Doc) Robinson, Jones' legal guardian, said Jones has received more than 300 letters from colleges across the country.
"Some of them don't have a chance," said Robinson. "And we have told them that. We don't keep anyone on the limb. We tell them if Earl is interested or not interested in their school right away."
Robinson listed such schools as Syracuse, Hawaii, San Diego State, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Maryland and UDC as ones Jones is considering visiting.
Should Jones fail to project the required 2.0 grade-point average required for an NCAA Division I athletic scholarship, there is a good possibility he would attend UDC. Jones is extremely fond of the Washington area and of UDC Coach Wil Jones.
"Yes, UDC is in the running," said Jones. "I like UDC. They have a good coach and one of my friends (Mike Britt) will be playing there next year. The school isn't big but I'd play there. Like I said, I'm not partial to a big school."
Jones, ruled ineligible his first semester at Spingarn following his transfer from Mount Hope, W. Va., to the D.C. school system, played 14 games for the Green Wave. The gifted 18-year-old averaged 20 points, 17 rebounds, seven blocks, four steals and four assists per game. While he was happy with his team's success, he was somewhat disappointed in his own statistics.
"I just felt I could have done more," said Jones. "I should have scored more. The competition was the best I have faced and I feel it helped my game some. My rebounding improved. Overall, I had a good year."
Both Robinson and Spingarn Coach John Wood are pleased that Jones is leaning toward college. They agreed that a year or two against top-flight collegiate competition would greatly help him.
'He should go to college to hone his skills and grow up with youngesters his own age," said Wood. "I just feel it would be a mistake for Earl Jones to make that kind of move now. The pros aren't going anywhere."
Robinson agreed. "I'm not going to make his final decision about a school for him but I told him college might be better for him now. A year or two at the most. Now, if the pro offer is outlandish . . . well.
"Right now, basketball is fun for Earl and that's all he wants to do. And that's what he going to do for a living.If not this year, then in the very near future. I don't have any doubt he can play pro right now."