UNLV has had just about everything go wrong for its season in 2016. Now, the college career of one of its heralded freshmen is in jeopardy.
The program was notified on Feb. 29 by the ACT testing service that forward Derrick Jones’ score has been cancelled. Therefore, Jones is currently ineligible to compete under NCAA rules. Jones — one of the best dunkers in college basketball — has played in every game this season and is currently averaging 11.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game for the Runnin’ Rebels.
According to a release from the university, UNLV is “in the process of reviewing the matter and its options with the relevant governing bodies to resolve the eligibility issues at hand.”
Jones was cleared to play this season by the NCAA in the fall. It’s worth noting that this is not the NCAA cancelling the score, but rather the ACT Testing body itself. Jones, according to ESPN, has a 3.25 GPA at UNLV so far.
ESPN spoke with Jones and also gave a bit more information on the issue at hand.
Jones was notified earlier this week that his season – and perhaps college career – were over.
“I thought the entire thing was over,” Jones told ESPN on Wednesday afternoon. “I’ve played all season. I was in shock. I just don’t understand it.”
“When my coach told me, it broke my heart,” he added. “I started crying. I just don’t get why they are doing this. I’m trying to figure out why.”
Jones, who said he currently has a 3.25 GPA at UNLV, said he has never spoken to anyone from the ACT or the NCAA throughout the entire process. He said he called the ACT after finding out he was ineligible in an attempt to gain more clarity.
“I took two prep classes before I took the ACT,” Jones said. “I took the test. It was me. I didn’t cheat. I didn’t do anything wrong. I just don’t understand it.”
Noted athletic attorney Roy Jackson is working with Jones on the problem, and he released a statement to The Sporting News regarding the issue.
“The recent actions appear to be a blatant, calculated effort to impact post-season play and to assure that UNLV plays without an important player in next week’s post season tournament,” Jackson said. “This ‘investigation’ has been ongoing for almost a year; there can be no other explanation for the timing.”
It is unclear at this point whether or not Jones will be eligible to play going forward at UNLV, or what effect this decision will have on UNLV’s season to date.
For now though, let’s remember how fun Jones is, and how he might be the only person in America who could beat Zach LaVine in a dunk contest: