Missouri tight end Andrew Jones could join Tigers men's basketball team

Thursday, December 1, 2011 | 8:48 p.m. CST; updated 9:34 p.m. CST, Thursday, December 1, 2011

COLUMBIA — Missouri football player Andrew Jones could help fill the 6-foot-8-inch hole the injured Laurence Bowers left in the Missouri men's basketball team lineup. 

The back-up tight end practiced with the team on Wednesday. MU Athletics spokesperson Chad Moller said a decision has not been made if Jones will permanently be a member of the team. 

But when Jones arrived to practice, there was a locker waiting for him, according to his high school basketball coach.

Chad Jones, the coach at Smithville High School, said he talks to Andrew Jones multiple times a week on the phone. He said Andrew Jones said he was surprised about his ability on the court and that he didn't think he was out of basketball shape.

So far this season, the Tigers' greatest weakness has been rebounding. The team ranks last in the Big 12 Conference in offensive rebounding at 27.4 percent.

Andrew Jones could change those numbers.

"He's probably the best high school rebounder I've ever seen in the state besides Tyler Hansbrough," Chris Jones said Thursday by phone. Hansbrough, a Popular Bluff native and a former standout at North Carolina, is now on the Indiana Pacers roster. 

Andrew Jones was a four-time All-State basketball player at Smithville, scoring nearly 2,000 points in his career there. He grew up playing on AAU teams with senior Marcus Denmon.

Chris Jones said that Andrew Jones's first love was basketball, but at 6 feet, 5 inches and 255 pounds he decided he would find the most success on the football field.

Andrew Jones was heavily recruited for basketball until he orally committed to play football at Missouri in January of his junior year. Still, he received offers from Missouri State and Wichita State for basketball. 

Chris Jones said that multiple Division II coaches in the Kansas City area have contacted him with the hope that Andrew Jones would attend a fifth year of college and play basketball for them. 

"He's seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and I know he just wants the opportunity to continue to compete," Chris Jones said. 

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