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Derrick Jones Jr. throws down a dunk during a road game at Arizona on 12.19.16. (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)
Derrick Jones Jr. throws down a dunk during a road game at Arizona on 12.19.16. (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)

Jones Jr. Ruled Ineligible for Rest of Season for Cancelled ACT Score

By Manny Vieites
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Derrick Jones has recently come into his own the last two weeks when the team has needed his development the most.  Even with Stephen Zimmerman recently returning to the court after missing several games with a knee injury, other forward Ben Carter went out over a month ago with an ACL tear, which required Jones to play a bigger role.

Injuries are just one aspect that have plagued the Rebels this year among a roller coaster of adversity, and now the word comes via press release from UNLV Athletics that Jones is “ineligible for further competition.”

Derrick Jones Jr. walks towards the bench during a road game at Arizona (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)

Derrick Jones Jr. walks towards the bench during a road game at Arizona (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)

The program was notified on Feb. 29 by the ACT testing service that Jones’ score had been cancelled. Therefore, Jones is currently ineligible to compete under NCAA rules, effective immediately and for the remainder of the season.

Jones, one of the best dunkers in college basketball, has played in every game this season and is currently averaging 11.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game for the Rebels. His last three games? Well, the freshman has tallied 64 points, 24 rebounds, 8 blocks and 7 steals.

UNLV issued a press release on Wednesday pertaining to Jones’ mishap.

“UNLV was notified by ACT Testing that it had cancelled Derrick Jones Jr.’s ACT score; thereby, making him ineligible for further competition under NCAA rules. In the fall, he was declared eligible by the NCAA to compete this season. UNLV is in the process of reviewing the matter and its options with the relevant governing bodies to resolve the eligibility issues at hand. There will be no further comment by UNLV on the matter until it is resolved.”

I can hear the general sighs of disbelief from Rebel fans now around the country.  This has been a rollercoaster ride of a season and when UNLV has recently shown that they could make a bit of a run in the conference tourney next week, this news is a major disappointment.

Derrick Jones Jr. limps towards the bench during a conference home game against San Jose State on 2.10.16 (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)

Derrick Jones Jr. limps towards the bench during a conference home game against San Jose State on 2.10.16 (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)

Jones lawyer, Don Jackson, told The Sporting News that he is not to pleased how this has been handled and feels that this has been a racially motivated attack.

“The NCAA Eligibility Center has attempted to shift responsibility for this investigation to the ACT,” Jackson said . “The reality of the matter is that a number of high profile minority student-athletes were specifically targeted by the NCAA Eligibility Center. Their use of NCAA legislation in a manner that is specifically intended to adversely impact African American and international student-athletes violates federal law‎.”

Jackson adds that this is a “Blatant, calculated effort to impact post-season play and to assure that UNLV plays without an important player in next week’s post season tournament.’

This investigation on Jones has been ongoing for nearly a year.

Jones is the second leading scorer on the team and shoots an impressive nearly 59% from the field.

No doubt, this is yet another major hitch in UNLV’s unimaginably difficult season. Interim Head Coach, Todd Simon, held a press conference discussing the matter Thursday at UNLV.

“Unfortunately we cant give too many details,” Simon said. “[Derrick’s] attorney is working on it, we’re working on it and it’s just such an unfortunate situation for Derrick. Derrick is doing well in school and is staying positive and upbeat, we just got to let this process play out.”

The team will be in need of Jones heading into San Diego State Saturday and more importantly the conference tournament.

“The team is obviously disappointed, Derrick is well liked and a great kid, the team hurts for Derrick,” Simon said.

The Rebels will be finishing out its regular season on Saturday and without Jones they will need Zimmerman to play more minutes than they would probably like, still coming off his recent knee injury.

Freshman F/C Stephen Zimmerman Jr. looks on during the second half against Arizona State on 12.16.15 (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)

Freshman F/C Stephen Zimmerman Jr. looks on during the second half against Arizona State on 12.16.15 (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)

Roadblock after roadblock, Simon will be forced to change his game plan once more for the hardest stretch of the season, the conference tournament, which takes place next week, March 7-12 at the Thomas & Mack, in Las Vegas.

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