Written by Corbett Smith
Alexis Jones overcomes dad's accident to fuel MacArthur's run
IRVING — Her eyes flit across the room, ending up at her coach’s desk. She flicks at a stack of papers.
Irving MacArthur’s Alexis Jones is uncomfortable talking about the accident, but then, why wouldn’t she be?
A self-professed daddy’s girl, Jones was in the car along with her brother and a few AAU teammates when her father hit a patch of black ice near Sweetwater. They were en route to basketball practice in North Texas in preparation for a tournament.
The car flipped three times. Her father, David, was seriously injured, paralyzed from the chest down.
“It was a shock — like it didn’t really happen,” Jones said. “But when I found out my dad was paralyzed, it was weird. He wasn’t going to be able to coach me anymore, and I wasn’t going to ever see him walk.”
Then, her words, much like her game this season, became steady and resolute.
“I’m getting through it,” she said.
It took David the better part of two years to get back to one of her basketball games, but he’ll be in the stands at Austin’s Erwin Center when MacArthur (35-2) faces San Antonio Wagner (32-6) at 3:30 p.m. today in the first Class 5A semifinal.
Her eighth-grade and freshman seasons, Jones was essentially without his guidance, as he learned to deal with his paralysis.
David, her basketball coach at Midland’s Boys and Girls Club since she was 4, and her mother, Carla, had made the decision to move to Irving at the end of Jones’ seventh-grade year.
The accident happened on Easter weekend.
“I think the first two years [after the accident] were real tough on her, because I wasn’t there — especially on the court,” David Jones said. “I mean, I was all she knew.”
Somehow, Jones persevered.
Now a junior, Jones has led MacArthur to its first UIL state tournament since 1986.
It’s been a banner year for her on the court.
The 5-9 guard is considered the No. 1 junior prospect in the nation by some recruiters.
This summer, Jones was the second-youngest member of the U18 USA Basketball national team, averaging 8.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.4 steals in five games as the U.S. went undefeated to win the 2010 FIBA Americas Championship.
Jones has the perfect make-up to be a scorer — tall, fast, athletic, with a lightning-quick first step.
But her first instinct since getting to MacArthur has been to pass.
“She loves to get her teammates involved,” David said. “I think that’s one of her biggest assets on the court. She just doesn’t want to be the star. She wants everyone on the team to be involved.”
That quality made her a perfect complement to former MacArthur guard Odyssey Sims.
Sims, now starring for No. 3 Baylor as a true freshman, was the show during her high school career, scoring 22 points per game as a senior en route to being named a Parade and McDonald’s All-American.
Jones was more than happy for her teammate to get the spotlight during the two seasons they played together, according to MacArthur coach Suzie Oelschlegel.
And last season, it looked as though a state title was in their grasp. That is, until the Class 5A Region I final, when Sims went down 13 seconds into the game with a torn ACL. MacArthur went on to lose to Cedar Hill, 67-60. Jones, plagued with foul trouble for most of the game, scored 26 points.
“At that point, this particular group of kids decided that from that point on, one way or another, this group was going to get there,” Oelschlegel said.
It’s a testament to Jones, and the improvement of guards Ayriel Anderson and Khoria Newman, that MacArthur is back.
Jones is averaging 29.8 points per game in the playoffs, while Anderson and Newman have combined to average 21.6 points during that span.
A big reason for the team’s success has been its summer preparation.
Now able to travel and coach, David — the director of operations of the Texas Express Elite AAU team — led a team composed primarily of MacArthur girls to win a national AAU showcase tournament in New Orleans.
Anderson said that’s when the team started to believe in itself.
“It all started in New Orleans,” she said.
David said he was grateful to be back coaching his daughter in AAU, now able to catch all of her high school games.
And nothing has made him happier than Alexis’ and her teammates’ run to state.
“I’m very, very proud for what they’ve been able to accomplish,” David said.