Column: It’s Time to Stop Undervaluing Jordan Bone

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    Photo by Anne Newman/RTI

    Vol fans are aware of how good of a point guard and overall player Jordan Bone is for Tennessee. But it’s time the junior point guard starts getting more national recognition for just how good he is.

    Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield rack up all the weekly awards and attention for the Vols, and Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden draw praise because of their quick-strike ability on offense and their defensive skills.

    But Bone has grown into one of the most consistent and productive point guards in all of college basketball, yet he’s not being talked about enough.

    The 6-foot-3, 180-pound guard from Nashville is on the verge of having a historic season and career as Tennessee’s point guard. Yet when you hear most analysts talk about some of the top point guards in college basketball, Bone’s name rarely gets mentioned. Players like Duke’s Tre Jones, Murray State’s Ja Morant, Michigan State’s Cassius Winston, and Gonzaga’s Josh Perkins all get brought up, and rightfully so. But Bone rarely — if ever — does.

    That needs to change.

    I wrote not too long ago that Bone is the true MVP of Tennessee’s basketball team this season, and Jerry Meyer — the Director of Basketball Scouting for 247Sports — said recently that Bone is the best NBA prospect on UT’s roster. But considering the type of season Bone is having, it’s time he gets talked about more often.

    Bone is currently averaging career-highs in just about every major statistical category. He’s averaging 13.4 points, 6.5 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 32.4 minutes per game while shooting 44.8 percent on his field goal attempts and 84.2 percent from the free throw line. His assist/turnover ratio currently sits at 3.49. That means he’s averaging three-and-a-half assists per every turnover he has.

    That ratio is the third-best in Division I college basketball among qualifying players. Only Duke’s Tre Jones and Jalen Harris of Arkansas have a better ratio this season.

    Bone’s assist/turnover ratio is even more impressive in SEC play, too. In seven SEC games, Bone has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 5.11, which is tops in conference play. Bone has only turned the ball over nine times in seven SEC games, and he’s amassed 46 assists against conference competition.

    Last season, Bone had 46 assists in 18 SEC games. This year, he’s already hit that mark with 11 conference games still to go.

    Right now, Bone’s average of 6.5 assists per game would be good for the fourth-best single season average in school history. His 3.49 assist/turnover ratio would crush UT’s school record for best ratio in a season. Jon Higgins currently owns that record with a 2.821 assist/turnover ratio in the 2002-03 season. Last year, Bone finished just a few percentage points short of breaking that record as a sophomore, finishing the year with a 2.818 ratio.

    It’s not all about Bone’s assist ability, though; he’s upped his overall offensive game as well.

    Bone is shooting the ball at a much higher clip this season than he has at any point in his career, and he’s more confident in his shot, too. He’s averaging 11.1 field goal attempts per game, which is up from just 6.7 shots per game that he attempted last season. His overall shooting percentage is up 5.7 percentage points from last season as well.

    Through 20 games this season, Bone’s Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is 19, which is the fourth-best on UT’s team. He has the second-highest total of Offensive Win Shares (the estimated number of wins contributed by a player due to his offense) at 2.0, and he has the second-highest Total Win Shares in conference play on UT’s roster.

    When you take into consideration that Bone is putting up these types of numbers and he’s usually the fourth or even fifth scoring option on his team most nights, then those stats are even more impressive.

    Typically, Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield are scoring options No. 1 and No. 2 for the Vols. Lamonte Turner — when healthy — has been a consistent No. 3 scoring option and can sometimes be the top scorer on the team, and Jordan Bowden has become a legitimate fourth scoring option in SEC play, averaging 16.2 points per contest in his six SEC games.

    That leaves Bone as the distributor for Tennessee. Yet he’s still averaging over 13 points per game and has eclipsed 15 or more points in nine of the 20 games he’s played in.

    The junior guard is doing all this for the current No. 1 team in college basketball, too. It’s not like Bone is stuck on some mid-major roster where he’s not getting national attention; Tennessee is on ESPN just about once a week now.

    Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield are the all-stars on Tennessee’s team, and they rightfully deserve all the attention they get. But it’s time Jordan Bone’s play starts getting recognized for how good it’s been this season, too.

    Bone is the point guard for the No. 1 team in college basketball, and he’s playing like one of the top floor generals in the nation. It’s time he gets the recognition he deserves.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.