Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Texas hoops star Andrew Jones hits game-winner on anniversary of cancer diagnosis

Talk about an anniversary celebration.

On Jan. 9, 2018, University of Texas men’s basketball star Andrew Jones was diagnosed with leukemia. On Saturday — three years to the day — he knocked down the game-winning 3-pointer to give the No. 4 Longhorns a 72-70 win over Big 12 foe West Virginia.

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Jones tweeted after the game and was quick to give thanks to God and his fellow Longhorn players:

Jones finished with 16 points and three rebounds in 35 minutes of action for the Longhorns, and even got some praise on Twitter from actor and ardent Longhorn supporter Matthew McConaughey:

It was another step in the incredible journey back to the court for Jones. Following his diagnosis, he missed 25 games while receiving treatment, then missed 35 games in 2018-19 to continue treatment.

He returned to the Longhorns last season in November with a 20-point performance against Northern Colorado and helped them to a 19-12 record and third-place Big 12 finish.

Jones played just two college games from January 2017 until November 2019, but still averaged 11.5 points per game last season. He passed the 1,000-point mark for his career scoring with Saturday’s performance, after which his teammates mobbed him in celebration.

“I’m emotional even seeing him go out on the floor and play,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said after the game. “The place where we were three years ago, and the way just that everyone in our program felt — it’s such a helpless feeling. When we would get a chance to see him in the hospital, it’s a pit in your stomach.

“I don’t know a lot of guys that would be able to do what he did, from the standpoint of scrapping and clawing his way back.”

Jones has often been open about his faith. He told reporters in 2018, “It’s a choice whether if you want to just continue to go on and fight through adversity, or you can just sit there and let it take over you. Most people don’t have the mental strength or even just the drive to want to do it, but anything is possible. Through the grace of God, anything is possible.”

Jones has used his social media to share Bible verses or inspirational messages throughout his journey.

Smart spoke of Jones’s determination to not only beat cancer but return to the court.

“He kept saying: ‘I’m going to come back and play,'” Smart said following the game. “The rest of us were like: ‘We’ll be happy if you can just get back healthy.’ I think that helped him from a motivational standpoint. I don’t think anyone’s surprised he made that shot.”

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