IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa forward Dale Jones figures he will have quite a story to tell once he is finished playing basketball.
The Waterloo native just hopes for a happy ending after suffering through two serious knee injuries.
“It’s a journey, it would be a great story to tell,” Jones said Thursday before Iowa’s annual postseason team banquet. “I could tell the kids and people back home about going through two ACL injuries.
“It would be a blessing, though, to come back next year and be able to compete at a high level and feel even better than I did last year.”
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery is counting on the 6-foot-8 Jones to play at a high level next season. Iowa loses four starters, and possibly five, if Peter Jok doesn’t return for his senior season.
The Hawkeyes finished 22-11 overall and 12-6 in the Big Ten this past season with a starting lineup that included four seniors.
“He’s a talented player,” McCaffery said of Jones, who played two seasons at Tyler Junior College in Texas before coming to Iowa. “He’s strong. He can shoot the three. He’s a rebounder.
“But defensively he needed some work. But he was really getting better in that area.”
Jones appeared in six games last season before suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.
“That’s one of the worst injuries you can have because it just takes a long time to recover,” Jones said. “But I went through this process already before and I pretty much know what to do.”
Jones suffered the same exact injury in junior college. However, Jones said Thursday that he has reason to believe the first injury was more severe than the second injury and that his first surgical repair wasn’t done properly.
“It definitely makes it easier because there wasn’t as much damage done this time around,” Jones said. “They didn’t think it was a full tear."
Jones came to Iowa with a reputation for being a 3-point shooter. He showed his potential in a victory over Coppin State, scoring 16 points and making four 3-point baskets. He also had seven rebounds in that game.
“In his mind, if I score and rebound, that’ll be enough,” McCaffery said. “Pretty much his whole life that’s what he has done.
“At this level, you’ve got to play a little more defense. He really dug in and was getting down in his stance. I’m excited about him, quite honestly.”
Jones expects to be fully recovered by the start of practice in October. He said his kind of injury usually takes about eight months to heal.
Jones has spent four years in college, including three years at Tyler Junior College, but has only played two full seasons of basketball because of injuries.
Jones hopes to be granted a medical hardship, which would give him a sixth season of eligibility after next season. But Jones said Thursday that he hasn’t heard anything about his situation.
Even with all his physical ailments, Jones considers himself fortunate in many ways.
He appreciates the medical care that he now receives as an Iowa student-athlete. He also knows that basketball won’t be around forever.
Jones was reminded of that while watching NBA star Kobe Bryant play in his final game on Wednesday.
"I’m at a Big Ten school, on scholarship and around great guys and a great atmosphere back home," Jones said. "I feel like I have it pretty good.
"Basketball tells me everyday that it’s just temporary. We want it to be a life-long thing, but it can’t be. Eventually you get older and your body will breakdown as you see with Kobe Bryant. He probably wanted to play forever. But you just can’t."