NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa – Iowa forward Dale Jones was understandably in a good mood on Thursday.
The 6-foot-8 Waterloo native learned earlier in the day that the NCAA had granted him a sixth year of eligibility. That means Jones will only be a junior next season and will have two years of eligibility instead of just one.
"I’d like to thank the man above because without him I wouldn’t be in this position right now," Jones said while attending the Prime Time League playoffs at the North Liberty Community Center. "I want to give thanks to Fran McCaffery and the coaching staff for taking the necessary steps to get me my sixth year. I want to thank the NCAA for approving it.
"I’m just excited to get this thing rolling this year. We’ve got a great group of guys, and I’m very excited."
Jones suffered a second ACL knee injury to his right knee in three years on Dec. 1, 2015, six games into his junior season with the Hawkeyes. He averaged 5.5 points, while shooting 45 percent from 3-point range (9-of-20) for the Hawkeyes. He also averaged three rebounds prior to the season-ending ACL injury.
Jones suffered his first knee injury prior to his sophomore year at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas. He transferred to Iowa after his redshirt sophomore season in 2015.
Jones isn’t playing in the Prime Time League this season, but he seems optimistic that he will be fully recovered by the start of practice in October.
"I feel great," said Jones who has been cleared to participate in everything except contact drills. "The surgery went well. I’m just excited."
Jones will be one of the oldest players on the Iowa team next season as a fifth-year junior. He was asked on Thursday how he hopes to help an Iowa team that has to replace for starters from last season.
"Just being a vocal leader being one of the older guys now and with rebounding and toughness," Jones said. "We lost a lot of great pieces. And to make it through conference play, we have to be one of the tougher teams."
With Jones getting a sixth year of eligibility, that means Iowa doesn’t have any more scholarships available in the 2017 class.
Iowa City West guard Connor McCaffery, who is Fran McCaffery’s oldest of four children, is the only player committed to Iowa’s 2017 class. Connor is expected to sign a national letter of intent during the early signing period in November.
But even without any scholarships available, Fran McCaffery and his assistants will stay in contact with recruits in the 2017 class because college rosters are fluid as players transfer on a regular basis.