When Brianna Jones and Cassandra Gordon begin talking about their futures, Jones falls naturally into her role as captain.
“Say it with confidence. ‘I’m gonna be great,’” Jones said to Gordon.
“I’m gonna be great,” Gordon affirmed.
Even in this brief interaction, Jones’s total support for her teammates was on full display. Not only does she believe in them, but she wants them to believe in themselves and express it loudly. She plans to use that spirit to guide her team and focus on continuing to develop her leadership skills this season.
“I’ve kind of been thrust into this role of being a grad student and being a fifth year. It’s something I kind of used to shy away from, but now I’m kind of stepping up a little bit more just being in that captain role,” Jones said.
Now a graduate student in her final year of eligibility, Jones’s promise as a player has been clear since long before she came to Georgetown. As a five-star recruit from North Babylon High School, she started showing leadership potential when she helped her team reach the Suffolk County Class AA championship game in her sophomore year. Her success continued into her junior year when she averaged 17.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, sunk 68 3-pointers, and became the only junior nominated for New York’s Gatorade Player of the Year award.
From there, Jones began her collegiate career at the University of Louisville where she appeared in 21 games as a freshman, 22 as a sophomore, and three NCAA Tournament games across those two seasons. However, hoping to start fresh, she transferred to Georgetown for her junior year. She wanted to be closer to her family and earn a degree from the McDonough School of Business. But of course, the biggest pull was the women’s basketball team.
“I looked at the success that the team had before coming here, and I thought that I could really help out,” Jones said. “They had a path towards something that I really wanted to be a part of.”
Unfortunately, transferring did not come without its challenges. In accordance with NCAA transfer rules, Jones sat out the entire 2017-18 season. Despite wanting to immediately dive into life at Georgetown, she took time to adjust both athletically and academically. Jones is thankful for the support she received from her team that year, especially from senior forward Anita Kelava.
“Being with Anita, who also transferred, really helped out a lot, and we kind of went through it together,” Jones said. “Without her, I don’t know where I’d be. Yeah, it was tough, but, you know, it’s something that I think made me better as a player and a student.”
After her brief hiatus from the court, Jones came back strong in 2018-19, finishing as Georgetown’s fourth-leading scorer. As the team adjusts to the loss of last year’s stars Dorothy Adomako, Dionna White, and Mikayla Venson, all eyes will be on Jones to spearhead the team’s efforts to replace the high volume of shots lost from those former Hoyas.
When asked about which players he expects to see progress in leadership roles this season, head coach James Howard immediately mentioned Jones.
“We’re looking for her to step up offensively and hopefully give us some scoring,” Howard said.
However, she won’t be alone in this endeavor. Jones expects big things from her teammates, having already seen some of the returners step up in practice, while noticing great potential in the new freshmen and transfers.
“We had this vision in our minds about how we want to play this year,” Jones said. “Again, it’s hard to replace [Adomako and White’s] scoring, but I think it’s going to be more of a collective group that you’re going to see this year which will be exciting to play with,” she said.
While Jones is particularly focused on refining her shot consistency, she’s also aiming to improve her conditioning. Better conditioning will be especially important as Georgetown tries to wear teams out on the defensive end, which Howard has stressed as a top priority.
“Our identity this year is always defense. We are defense, and we got to be even greater this year in order to put together a solid season,” Howard said.
With high hopes for the upcoming season, it’s important to Jones that she’s in the best place physically and mentally to handle whatever might be thrown at her and her team on the court. Yet, her passion for basketball manifests itself off the court as well. She is currently looking into sports performance, and studying to get certified in strength and conditioning. She even floated the idea of coaching or being a graduate assistant.
“I mean, I want to be in basketball as long as possible, whether that’s playing or coaching,” Jones said.
With her final season looming, Jones has ambitious goals for the team and for herself. Her main goal is to play in the postseason, especially after the Hoyas’s success in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament last year. She is also looking forward to another chance to play in the Big East Tournament.
As for her personal goals, Jones wants to make the absolute most of her final season.
“It’s my last year,” Jones said. “I want to end out in a bang. I want to win a lot of games, and have fun on the court with my teammates
Although the women’s team faces a lot of pressure to collectively make up for their expected scoring deficiencies, they stand better odds of doing just that with a strong, motivated Jones mentoring an inexperienced but promising team.There’s no telling what’s in store for this Georgetown squad, but what’s certain is that Jones will create a wealth of memories with them in the coming months.