EDIT 08/24/2018: Updating the story to include announcement that Andrew Jones is enrolling in fall classes.
Andrew Jones winning battle vs. leukemia; ‘Looking forward to being back on campus’ at Texas this fallhttps://t.co/KCCWsvhEW4— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) August 23, 2018
There are a number of interesting storylines coming into the 2018-2019 Texas Longhorns basketball season:
- Will the offense improve
- Can Texas compete for a conference title
- Is the program trending upwards
- If Jericho Sims wore a cone of silence, would anybody notice
All of these are important questions (especially the Sims question) that I’ll get into in further detail in the coming months (especially the Sims question) but all of these questions are impossible to answer without taking a position on one major question: is Andrew Jones playing this year? With all due respect to the other players: the effectiveness of the offense, the depth at multiple guard positions, the three-point shooting, every tendril of this team’s makeup traces back to Jones on some level. A healthy Andrew Jones is immediately one of the 2-3 best players on the 2018-2019 team, if not the best player. His presence makes a significant difference in Texas’ ceiling.
I have spent a lot of time and effort keeping tabs on Andrew Jones the last 7 months. I have talked to people close to him, I’ve watched his social media posts, and I’ve tried to do my best to not get sucked into what I want to happen but what I think will happen. In other words, I did my best to read the situation and not type this with a burnt orange foam finger. It’s not even practical, honestly. The finger is soft and hits multiple keys at the same time, so you’re at best typing three words a minute and two of them are wrong; it’s better to use speech-to-text while holding your phone with the foam finger. Sure, you still accidentally dial your parents because Google doesn’t understand Texan accents, but you can use the foam finger on your other hand to hang up the phone. Wait, what was I talking about? Oh, right.
I think Andrew Jones plays this year. I won’t guarantee it as his treatments aren’t over, but everything I’m hearing in the background speaks to ‘when’ he returns rather than ‘if’ he returns. The family is quietly optimistic in that way where they don’t want to say anything for fear of jinxing it, but the language some in their camp are using to describe his return to Texas is decidedly more positive than it was a few months ago. His doctors are similarly optimistic. There’s an ESPN film crew following Jones around campus for an upcoming documentary, which doesn’t seem like something they’d do if he was getting worse. He’s moved into the dorms for the summer, and he’s posting videos like this to Instagram:
That’s a recent video, by the way. So is this photo:
That’s a pretty impressive physique for a guy who lost close to a quarter of his body weight in early rounds of treatment.
Also, it’s worth noting what some of his teammates are posting online, because there are few people worse at keeping secrets than college-aged men.
And then there’s this, which doesn’t have anything to do with Andrew Jones, I just wanted us all to bask in the glory of Eli Long’s hair:
Many of us have people in our lives who have battled cancer; some won, some lost, but it affects nearly everyone at some point or another. Watching a young man with preternatural ability being waylaid by leukemia is a stark reminder of our mortality, and I think we would all love to watch that same young man beat back the disease if for no other reason than it reminds us it’s possible. Regardless of Jones’ ability to return to the court, simply seeing him healthy and happy is an enormous win for the Jones family and their Longhorn extended family.
This isn’t a 100% done deal, as with any form of prolonged medical treatment there’s a chance things go sideways. With that said, I would be stunned if Andrew Jones isn’t in a uniform at some point this season. It’s possible he isn’t cleared until the second semester, but I feel pretty confident Jones will be cleared to play for Texas before this season is done. If that happens, the first time he checks into a game the Burnt Orange faithful should give him an ovation the likes of which the Drum has never heard because the fight he will have overcome will be incredible.