Before the 2019-2020 high school basketball season began, veteran Dickinson High School head boys’ basketball coach Sean Drennan had a little heart-to-heart conversation with his most experienced player, namely senior forward Tymair Jones.
“The first thing I said was that we lost a lot from last year,” Drennan said. “We lost our top three scorers and most of our top rotation of players. So Tymair had to become more of a centerpiece of our offense. He had to become more of a well rounded player.”
Drennan didn’t know if the 6-foot-4 forward could handle the responsibilities.
“He did make a gradual progression over the years,” Drennan said. “Every year, he did get a little better. But this year, his role changed. He was the centerpiece.”
Just like an exquisite seven-course dinner at a luxurious upscale restaurant, Jones had to be the final portion in the center of the table for the Rams.
And Jones knew it.
“I felt like I had to be more of a leader,” Jones said. “We graduated a lot of players. I had to step up and be more of a scorer if we wanted to win.”
Jones anticipated the necessity to become more of a factor than the 7.7 point per game and 4.1 rebound per game player he was a year ago. Jones had no choice but to improve.
“I worked on my ball skills and ball handling,” Jones said. “I had to go to the rim more. I worked on my ball fakes. I had to learn how to take better shots. I worked on getting stronger. I worked on my low post moves.”
One thing was prevalent during Jones’ transformation. His confidence never dipped once.
“I definitely had faith in myself,” Jones said. “I knew if I got better, I could make a big impact.”
Jones figured he could become the type of player he envisioned when he was growing up in the Greenville section of Jersey City, a basketball haven called Audubon Park, where dreams are born.
“When I watched people play basketball, I wanted to play,” Jones said. “I loved to play.”
After meeting the coaching staff at Dickinson, namely Drennan and his former assistant Jimmy Morley, now the head coach at Ferris, Jones decided to attend Dickinson.
“I went to the orientation and met a few friends who went there,” Jones said. “I felt comfortable there.”
Drennan saw a lot in Jones from the outset.
“We saw the good and the bad over his first three years, but he made that natural progression,” Drennan said. “And I really thought that he could be a good one. Yes, I said to him at the beginning of the season that he could be First Team All-County.”
Well, Drennan is looking like a soothsayer, because Jones has been nothing but exceptional from the beginning of the season.
From the very first game of the season against Kearny, Jones had 14 points, 10 rebounds, five steals and three blocked shots. The next game, Jones had 24 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. One game against Marion Charter, Jones had 28 points and 16 rebounds. Jones has registered in double figures in points and rebounds six times.
Over the first 10 games of the season, Jones is averaging 17.7 points, 10 rebounds and almost three blocked shots – an astounding 10 points and six rebounds per game better than a year ago.
And for his efforts, Jones has been selected as The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week for the past week.
Jones is the first Dickinson hoop standout to receive Reporter Athlete of the Week honors since Tyriek Battle-Holley almost the same exact week in 2018. Battle-Holley was featured as the AOW on Jan. 20, 2018. Holley is currently playing junior college basketball at Cuyahoga Community College outside Cleveland after spending a year at McCook Community College in Nebraska last year.
“I used to watch him play a lot,” said Jones, who was a little-used sophomore on the Rams with Battle-Holley two years ago. “When I saw him scoring like he did every night, I thought I could do that, too.”
Jones has now been getting looks from some good colleges in the area.
“He has a very high ceiling,” Drennan said. “We all knew that he had a lot of athletic ability. I think he’s going to be a good college player.”
Jones is also a good student and will qualify to play college basketball immediately.
“It was always a goal of mine to play college basketball,” Jones said. “I think it’s amazing that coaches are interested in me and coming to watch me play. I know my Mom [Tawana Moore] loves it. But I like it, too.”
“He’s a great kid,” Drennan said of Jones. “He doesn’t say ‘boo.’ He’s a really good young man. I’m proud of the way he developed.”
Jones is certainly acting and talking like a leader, just like Battle-Holley did.
“We had a good feeling about him and he hasn’t let us down,” Drennan said. “He still needs to work on the defensive end of the floor.”
Jones is a little surprised with his tremendous ascent into the Hudson County hoop elite.
“I think I’m doing way better than anyone could have imagined,” Jones said. “I just have to keep playing hard. I feel like I need to rebound more and work harder on defense.” – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com