Taylor Jones, once recruited by Oklahoma, is now shining at Texas

Emma Hutchinson, Senior Sports Reporter

Taylor Jones never thought she’d be playing collegiate basketball for the Texas Longhorns. In fact, she grew up in a house that particularly despised burnt orange — The Jones were much more of a maroon family.

“My dad is a graduate (of Texas) A&M, so I was raised to hate the Longhorns,” Jones said. “At the time, we were rooting against Texas, but now here I am.”

The junior forward transferred to Texas after spending a majority of her college career at Oregon State. But once she hit the portal, her recruitment process further pointed her in the opposite direction of Austin. Sitting on the Oklahoma side at the Red River Rivalry Showdown last year, courtesy of the Oklahoma recruiting staff, Jones was almost set on being a Sooner.

“I’m originally from Dallas, and I remember growing up and going to the Texas versus OU football games,” Jones said. “I was actually getting recruited by OU, but I knew how deep-rooted the rivalry was.”

Prior to the team’s matchup against Oklahoma on Wednesday, Jones described the initial transfer between programs as being difficult, despite having three years of collegiate basketball experience under her belt.

“I chose to transfer to a program that had a completely different, literally opposite style of play than where I was from,” Jones said. “I think it has definitely paid off and helped me evolve my game and grow my game in ways that I never would have imagined.”

However, picking the right team wasn’t the only challenge Jones was faced with coming out of Oregon State. During her 2021-22 season, Jones didn’t see the last 21 games due to a serious shoulder injury that left her needing surgery.

Jones felt a similar setback this December when she walked off the court against South Florida with another injury. After over a month of sitting on the sidelines, Jones returned just in time for the team’s Big 12 conference schedule.

“I’m coming into the season after everyone has already had however many days of practice, and I haven’t, so I think that has been pretty difficult mentally,” Jones said. “These last few games have been a longer stretch of games that I’ve played for the past year and a half, so I’m extremely thankful to come out and play. In our game against Baylor, I finally felt my rhythm again.”

Head coach Vic Schaefer reiterated that Jones’ main obstacle is staying healthy. He said that her ability to stay upright when thrown into unfamiliar circumstances has made her successful as a team player. 

“She’s really been thrust into a situation where she’s had to play point guard when Rori (Harmon) went down, and she’s really embraced that,” Schaefer said. “I think what we’re looking for from her is the consistency piece.” 

Averaging 53.3% from the field and 9.1 points per game, it’s no surprise that Jones has a positive impact on the team. Schaefer mentioned Jones’ performance against opponents on the road is acknowledgeable and that she continues to improve in all areas that she covers.

“I’ve said this all year, when she’s good, she really affects our team in such a positive way,” Schaefer said. “She’s a great kid and works her tail off. We’ve just got to get her consistent in every game because that kid can be really, really good.”

As for the future, Jones hopes to continue her basketball career into the WNBA, to which she said the transfer process will provide some leverage when the time comes. 

“Transferring for me really helped me realize, let’s just say in the future, you get drafted, you go to a team with a style that you have never played, you’ve got to learn it quick,” Jones said. “If you get traded to another team, you’ve got to learn it quick. It’s been a great challenge and I’ve loved it so far.”