Utah State’s Rylan Jones Fulfilling Captain Role Despite Trying Senior Season

Mar 15, 2023, 2:11 PM | Updated: 5:16 pm

SACRAMENTO, California – To say that Utah State point guard Rylan Jones‘ senior season hasn’t gone according to plan would be an understatement.

After missing 21 of a possible 34 games this season, including their last 18 contests, Jones will be with the Aggies in Sacramento, though unavailable for action.

He missed three games and most of a fourth early in the season following a head injury suffered against Utah Tech in December. Jones returned to the Aggie lineup against Weber State on December 15.

Less than a month later, Jones took a hit against Boise State, leaving the game after being tended to on the court for several minutes. He hasn’t played since and only recently started attending games in-person again.

“It’s been hard (sitting out) but I wouldn’t want to do it with any other team. I trust these guys. They’ve got my back and I’ve got their back.”

RELATED: Utah State’s NCAA Tournament History As Aggies Prepare For Missouri

“My role as a captain has not always been on the court,” Jones said in a press conference ahead of Utah State’s first round game against Missouri. “We always talked about having 15 different leaders and that’s where I’ve been on the sideline, keeping everybody up. Helping people with what I see on the court.”

“Whether it’s talking during a timeout or halftime. Keeping the guys on the bench who aren’t playing engaged. Giving energy wherever I can.”

RELATED: Mountain West Regular Season Honors Announced, Steven Ashworth Named To First-Team

Jones Continues Family Legacy At Utah State

Jones had a unique perspective of the USU program going up. His father, Chris, spent eight seasons on the Aggie coaching staff, allowing Rylan to grow up around the program.

“This kid is a true Aggie,” Utah State head coach Ryan Odom said of Jones. “His father coached at Utah State. He grew up in that gym, watching former Aggies play and make it to the NCAA tournament.”

Odom made it a point to include Jones in as much of the tournament process as possible.

“I wanted him to experience what being in the NCAA tournament is all about. For him to still be an active part of this team, a leader of this team is huge. So for him to be able to do this and then shoot with the guys out there in the practice, that’s everything to me.”

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment that we’re experiencing as a team,” Jones said Wednesday. “I trust these guys and they got my back. They’re gonna take us as far as we’re gonna go and I’m just enjoying the ride.”

RELATED: Ryan Odom Brings Unique NCAA Tournament Experience In First Big Dance With Utah State

Utah State vs. Missouri

Utah State (26-8, 13-5) received an at-large bid to the 2023 NCAA tournament. They will face the No. 23 Missouri Tigers (24-9, 11-7) in the Round of 64 on Thursday, March 16.

Missouri was second in the SEC, behind only Alabama, scoring 79.5 points per game this season. Defensively, the Tigers allowed 74.6ppg. Comparatively, the Aggies scored 78.6ppg while giving up 69.7ppg. As a team, Mizzou shoots 47.3 percent from the field and they have eight regulars that connect at a 43 percent or better rate.

RELATED: Similar To Utah State, Missouri Lacks Recent NCAA Tournament Success

USA Today’s SEC Coach of the Year Dennis Gates leads a Tigers attack that is spearheaded by All-SEC first-teamer, 6’8 senior Kobe Brown. Brown led Mizzou, averaging 15.8 points per contest. He comes into the tournament shooting 55.2 percent (182-of-330) from the field and 44.7 percent (46-of-103) from deep while also leading the team with 6.3 rebounds per game.

6’4 graduate senior D’Moi Hodge was second behind brown, averaging 14.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Hodge was named to the All-SEC Tournament Team after scoring 47 points across two games to lead the Tigers. DeAndre Gholston rounds out Missouri’s double-digit scorers, averaging 10.7 points per game.

Where to watch No. 10 USU vs. No. 7 Mizzou

The Aggies and Missouri Tigers are scheduled for an 11:40 a.m. (MT) tip at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, CA on Thursday, March 16. This game will be broadcast on TNT.

RELATED: Three Keys If Utah State Hopes To Advance In NCAA Tournament

The winner of this game will face either the No. 2 Arizona Wildcats or the No. 15 Princeton Tigers on Saturday, March 18.

Every Utah State basketball game can be heard on the KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard on the call.

KSL Sports coverage of Utah State University Athletics can be found here. 

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Utah State’s Rylan Jones Fulfilling Captain Role Despite Trying Senior Season