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The mysterious ailment that has hampered Texas’ second-leading scorer the past few weeks has proven more serious than anyone first imagined.
The university made a heartbreaking announcement Wednesday that sophomore guard Andrew Jones is undergoing treatment for leukemia.
“Speaking for our entire team and staff, we love Andrew and will do everything we can to support his family and help him get back to health,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “I want to thank everyone for being respectful of the privacy that the Jones family needs at this time.”
Concern regarding Jones’ health first arose in late December when he returned from a fractured wrist but did not look himself. He logged only nine minutes against Kansas on Dec. 29, prompting Smart to note that he looked winded and needed to get back into game shape. He played 11 minutes against Iowa State on New Year’s Day, after which Smart revealed that he was concerned something else was sapping Jones of his usual energy.
When Jones did not make the trip to Waco for last Saturday’s game against Baylor, reporters asked Smart for an update on what was wrong. This time Smart was more tight-lipped with his response, which in retrospect hinted that whatever Jones was facing was severe.
Now we have a better idea of what Jones is up against, though Texas did not offer many specifics. A Texas spokesman declined to reveal the type of leukemia Jones has or the prognosis for recovery because of privacy laws.
“We know Andrew’s a fighter with a strong family and our thoughts, prayers and support are fully behind them,” Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte said in a statement. “At The University of Texas, we will do everything in our power to provide all of the resources we can to assist Andrew and his family.”
Before his diagnosis, Jones had ambitions of someday playing in the NBA. He averaged 11.9 points as a freshman and attended the NBA draft combine last May, but he chose to return to school in hopes of improving his stock by showcasing a more consistent jump shot.
Jones was averaging a team-high 15.3 points and shooting 46.3 percent from behind the arc before the wrist injury sidelined him for much of December. He was the catalyst for a strong start to the season for Texas that included wins over Butler and VCU and overtime losses to national powers Duke and Gonzaga.
While Texas will miss Jones’ outside shooting and creativity off the dribble this season, that’s far from the Longhorns’ biggest concern. All they want now is for Jones to get healthy again.
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