St. Laurence’s Khalil Jones fell in love with basketball at age 5 watching Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls on TV.
Jones began enjoying at that age and identified that he was fairly good — higher than the entire different gamers. Two years later, he performed AAU. And then?
He wasn’t higher than the entire different gamers.
“That was a wake-up call,” mentioned Jones, a three-year varsity starter for the Vikings. “I used to be like, ‘Whoa, I gotta work.’ But I wished to get good. I wished to get higher.
“And if you want to be great, you have to play with the best.”
The junior guard was at his finest within the second quarter Tuesday night time, scoring all 10 of his factors as St. Laurence erupted to beat host St. Rita 81-43 in a Catholic League crossover in Chicago.
Zerrick Johnson led the Vikings (15-10), who’re 7-3 of their final 10 video games, with 16 factors. James Jones III added 13 factors, Bradley Stratton adopted with 12 and Josh Pickett had 11.
Justin Buckner paced St. Rita (1-22) with 18 factors.
Khalil Jones, an Aurora resident, has been making regular enchancment in his profession however suffered a giant setback in the summertime when he missed most of his AAU season for the Chicago Hoops with a again harm.
“It was a stress fracture,” he mentioned. “I used to be overusing it. I didn’t have surgical procedure, however I needed to relaxation and watch my crew from the bench. I used to be cleared in August or late July.
“It was tough coming back, but I started feeling comfortable in September.”
St. Laurence coach Byron Burt has been comfy having Jones within the lineup for 3 years.
“He’s my favorite guy,” Burt mentioned. “He’s an awesome child. He performs laborious. He does what everyone asks him. He’s a loyal individual, and that’s what I like about him.
“He’s an elite point guard and gets his teammates involved. He’s the most unselfish kid I’ve ever coached. He makes the team better with his presence.”
Pickett returned to St. Rita’s courtroom for the primary time since he performed for the Mustangs as a freshman. He transferred to West Aurora and performed there his sophomore and junior seasons.
Last season, the Denver commit was within the fitness center for St. Rita’s loss to Brother Rice within the sectional championship sport, however this was the primary time in three seasons he performed there.
“It was something, for sure,” Pickett mentioned. “I started thinking about all the memories we made here my freshman year, and it’s definitely been an experience.”
The sport additionally noticed the return of former St. Rita coach Roshawn Russell, who’s now an assistant for the Vikings.
Russell completed with a 71-42 report for the Mustangs, who performed in nationwide tournaments and shootouts throughout his tenure.
Four years in the past, Russell introduced in a freshman class headlined by Pickett, James Brown, Morez Johnson and Jaedin Reyna. All had been gone earlier than their senior years. Pickett, Brown and Johnson have dedicated to Division I faculties. Reyna, who’s enjoying for Bishop Noll in Hammond, is an Indiana Mr. Basketball candidate.
“It was interesting,” Russell mentioned of his return. “I’m just glad we got the win. I’ll leave it there.”
Khalil Jones, in the meantime, has seen gamers come and go together with the Vikings as nicely, however he likes the way in which this crew has been enjoying in latest weeks.
“Oh man, I feel like we have a little bit of everything,” he mentioned. “It’s a brand new crew, and we’ve got been attempting to jell collectively.
“I think we’re doing it well. The personalities are great, the spirits are high, and even when things are going bad, we are always staying positive.”
Jeff Vorva is a contract reporter the Daily Southtown.