CLINTON — Jalen Jones is on top of the throne. The Clinton senior had to work his way to get there, but now he leaves the Gateway area with more goals set in mind — and the Clinton Herald Boys Basketball Player of the Year honor.
“I owe everything to my teammates,” Jones said. “They were all fun to play with, and to play with a player of Brady’s (Ernst) talent was also fun to play with.”
Jones and the River Kings had a 13-9 record, but they also had a tough non-conference, regular-season and postseason schedule.
“I thought we started the season well, and that got us the motivation that we can play with anyone,” Jones said.
Jones led the Kings with 19 points a game and amassed about seven rebounds a game. His 19 points a game was 10th-best in Class 4A, and was in the top five among those 10 in made field goals. Jones also had a better free-throw percentage than the state’s leading scorer — Jones was at 76 percent while Terrance Bush, Jr. of Des Moines North made 73 percent of his free throws.
The 6-foot-6 River King also became the first Clinton player to score 1,000 points. He did it on a fourth-quarter free throw on Feb. 14 in a 67-59 loss to Davenport Assumption. He scored 30 points that night, just three off his personal best he attained in the early part of the 2012-13 season.
After Jones had crossed the 1,000 line, he was relieved to get it accomplished and focus on making a strong postseason run.
“I was reminded of it every day in school,” Jones said of the feat. “I knew people were talking about it, and not just in school, but in the entire town. I was very surprised when I knew I was going to become the first; it’s a huge accomplishment.”