Mater Dei Prep boys basketball coach Ben Gamble played the point guard position for a man considered to be the best high school basketball coach in the country while under the watch of Bob Hurley at St. Anthony, so to say he emphasizes point guard play at his current program would be an understatement.

Gamble demands a lot of the position but there is one description he hopes to use for his point guards above all others: winner.

Since transferring to Mater Dei from Marist in Jersey City ahead of the 2015-16 season, few words better describe Kenny Jones than "winner".

Kenny Jones and Mater Dei Prep had their hands full with the state's No. 1 team in suffering their first loss. (Photo by Robert Samuels)
Mater Dei Prep point guard Kenny Jones. (Photo by Robert Samuels)

That is why more than a dozen Division I programs offered Jones a scholarship to play college basketball and on Wednesday morning, Jones chose Loyola University as his destination after his final season at Mater Dei in 2017-18. He made his announcement on Twitter.

Princeton and Monmouth were among the schools that offered Jones a spot on their future rosters, but Loyola came in with an offer a little more than two weeks ago and won over the Seraphs' 6-foot-1 point man.

In two seasons at Mater Dei, Jones has been the starting point guard for a two-time Shore Conference Tournament championship team. During those two years, Mater Dei has amassed a record of 51-6.

While Jones was a steady player as a sophomore, his junior campaign in 2016-17 showed off his full range of abilities both on the court and statistically. He was second on the Seraphs with 11.1 points per game and checked in No. 4 in the entire Shore Conference with 5.7 assists per game. Jones was also a disrupting force on a very active Mater Dei defense, averaging 2.36 steals per game.

In the postseason, Jones was even better. In six games between the NJSIAA and Shore Conference Tournaments, Jones averaged 13.7 points and 7.7 assists per game, including 14.25 points and 7.75 assists in a successful Shore Conference Tournament run.

After Mater Dei added shooter Kyle Cardaci on Jan. 25, Jones averaged 6.9 assists and also recorded his only two 20-point games of the season - one in a Shore Conference Tournament win over Red Bank Catholic and the other in a win over Gloucester Catholic in the South Jersey Non-Public B first round.

Jones will lead a Mater Dei team that returns plenty of experienced guards in 2017-18. Along with Jones, the Seraphs return Cardaci, senior Yasin Pretlow, senior Brandon Wilson and welcome in junior Alexander Rice. The son Monmouth University head coach King Rice, Alexander Rice spent his sophomore season as a starter at St. Anthony, where he was second on the Friars in scoring.

Mater Dei will also boast 6-8 center Adam Afifi as it tries to capture a third straight SCT title while holding off rival Ranney, which enters the season loaded with junior talent and some newfound size.


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