Michael Jones doesn’t care who he goes up against or what court he steps onto.
Whether it’s the transition from playing at Davidson to Stanford, the jump from the Atlantic-10 to the Pac-12 or the move from East Coast to West Coast hoops, Stanford’s newest graduate transfer knows he’s ready to take on whatever is thrown his way.
“Ball is ball,” Jones said. “If you can play, you can play anywhere.”
Before he made waves as a sharpshooter for an accomplished Davidson program, Jones started his basketball career in the basement of his home in Minnesota.
“Growing up, my basement in my house was unfinished, so it was just like a concrete slab,” Jones said. “So my dad and I put a little mini basketball hoop up and I would go down there when I was really young, like four or five years old.”
His early affinity for the game ultimately served him well — the 6-foot-5 guard found success beyond just the basement.
Jones comes to The Farm with an impressive resume at the collegiate level. After redshirting his first year at Davidson, the Minnesota native demonstrated his efficient production in the subsequent three seasons, shooting above 44% from the field each year.
His time as a Wildcat culminated with a 2021-22 campaign in which he started all 34 games, scoring an average of 11.8 points in each while shooting 42.1% from beyond the arc. Jones’ play helped Davidson earn an Atlantic-10 regular season championship as well as an NCAA Tournament appearance.
While the guard has earned a reputation as a shooter, he knows he brings a lot more to the table.
“Especially this past year, I think I’m a much-improved defender,” said Jones, who corralled a career-best 33 steals last season. “I think I have good vision, good passing, [am] able to make good decisions with the ball [and] playmake a little bit.”
Jones’ improvements on the defensive end will prove to be especially valuable for a Stanford team that allowed opponents to shoot 45% from the field last season, second worst in the Pac-12. His offensive skill set should also improve the flow of a Cardinal offense that was hurt by moments of stagnation and cold shooting spells.
“Michael provides a tremendous skill set,” said head coach Jerod Haase in a press release. “He can score in a variety of ways and can defend multiple positions. He played an integral role on an NCAA Tournament team and will provide experience that will immediately lift our program.”
With his NCAA tournament experience, the career 40.3% 3-point shooter hopes to lead the Cardinal into territory that they have not entered in years — the program has failed to reach the NCAA Tournament since 2014.
“I think we have a chance to be a really good team this year [and] go to the tournament,” Jones said.
While Jones will likely be asked to provide outside shooting and perimeter defense — both staples of Haase’s system in recent years — the transfer’s contributions in the locker room will be less familiar as he will be the program’s first transfer since 2009. Despite joining as a new member of the team, Jones has a plan for providing his veteran presence, largely thanks to the impact a transfer player had on him while at Davidson.
“Part of the reason our team was so good is that we had a transfer ourselves, Foster Loyer,” Jones said of his Davidson squad from the 2021-22 season. “He was a leader, somebody who guys looked up to. And that’s what I hope I can be. This coming year in the locker room I’m not trying to be anything crazy, just be who I am…I like to think I know basketball pretty well, so hopefully I’ll be able to spread a little bit of my wisdom that I’ve had over my career to any of the guys.”
After finishing 16-16 last season, the Stanford squad has its sights set on winning. And Michael Jones is confident he can make that happen.
“I’m a winner and we’re going to win. That’s what I’m going to say.”