Dahntay Jones

Watching him sit on the bench for a season, there is not a lot people can learn about Dahntay Jones.

Per NCAA rules, the Duke transfer can not play until next season. He has, however, been gaining a name for himself as the most fashionable member on the team.

"I just try to be presentable every game, work with what I have," said Jones of his growing reputation as the basketball team's resident Mr. GQ.

Although the public has not had much of a chance to see Dahntay the Blue Devil in action, it has been able to see Dahntay the Scarlet Knight in action. Jones transferred after two seasons at Rutgers because he was frustrated with a team that went 15-16 his sophomore year while he was knocking down 16 points per game.

"At the university I was at, I was having problems with people wanting to play basketball, enjoying to play basketball and enjoying the fact of being good at it, having a winning attitude," he said. "Where I was, if we lost, we lost. If we won, we won. I wasn't satisfied with that and I didn't see myself getting better playing against people on a daily basis who were not as good as me. So I decided I was going to move on."

When Jones decided to transfer, Duke was a natural fit. He thought he could find that winning attitude in Durham; as it turned out, one of his best friends, Jason Williams, was already on the team.

Williams, who like Jones is from New Jersey, got to know his newest teammate growing up in the basketball sphere.

"He's from South New Jersey, I'm from North New Jersey, and we always knew each other from basketball," Williams said.

Williams knew Jones was unhappy at Rutgers. They had always wanted to play together; in fact, Jones said when Williams was considering colleges, he looked at Rutgers because Jones was there.

So when Jones received his release, Mike Krzyzewski was more than interested in the sophomore, and assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski soon reciprocated Jones' interest. Before Jones, Duke had taken only one other transfer, Roshown McLeod from St. John's in the 1996-97 season. McLeod saw his numbers rise from 7.8 points per game his final year with the Red Storm to an average of 15.4 his final year with Duke.

Jones said the transfer process was deliberately complicated.

"I talked to [Krzyzewski] over the phone," he said. "I talked to him about me wanting to leave Rutgers. He said that if I wanted to come to Duke, he wanted me to be 100 percent in my choice. He said, 'If you can throw yourself in 100 percent, we'd love to have you.'"

Krzyzewski was not lying, and Wojciechowski agrees that Jones was a prize catch for Duke.

"He was one of the top players in the league, All-Rookie team, All-Big East," Wojciechowski said. "He's one of the marquee players in one of the best conferences. The day we got his release from Rutgers, that allowed us to speak to him. There was a definite interest. You have a big-time player with enormous potential, also at a spot we lose with Nate James."

Now at Duke, Jones is a member of the team. He practices, cheers and celebrates with them-everything except play in games. It is easier sometimes than others-like when Duke is in trouble at Cameron with a minute left against the Tar Heels.

"It was very, very hard because you just can't do anything," he said. "It's like a glass wall from which you can see everything but can't do anything."

Even though cheerleading on the sideline is the only thing he can do this season, Jones has done it with the same intensity he plans on bringing to the basketball court next season.

"I'm a very passionate player," he said. "When I'm able to play, I'm going to give it all I have. I'll be a different person than you'll see this year. I love basketball that much. I'm cheering so much right now because that's my only release."

Next year, Williams and Jones will lead a backcourt stacked with Chris Duhon and Daniel Ewing as well, a combination that takes this season's backcourt, arguably the best in the nation, to an even higher level.

"It'll be amazing," Williams said. "That combination doesn't usually happen. I look forward to it. It's going to be great."


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