Joe Jones ready to capture a conference title

Following a tough freshman year, the Georgia State center, Joe Jonas III, is set to bounce back. Photo Submitted by GSU Athletics

In sports, the community can create lifelong camaraderie and friendship among teammates, coaches and even your siblings, for that matter.

Along with the sports and basketball community, some young players tend to mold their game after professional players and look to them as motivation sources. Very few, however, can look in their own homes for that motivation from a former No. 1 overall pick.   

Joe Jones III, sophomore center for Georgia State men’s basketball team, is the little brother of Greg Oden, who was selected first overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. On his journey to make a name for himself and play at the next level, his older brother has motivated and inspired him to take the game seriously.  

“I would say he motivated me,” Jones said. “Going to his games, who [doesn’t] want to play in front of all these people [and] top talent? Who doesn’t want to do that?”

Head Coach Rob Lanier and his staff recognized Jones, who was in Canada at the time. They loved what they had seen in the six-foot nine-inch 225-pound big man when they visited him. The Buffalo native Jones appreciated the interest Lanier and his staff presented him with.      

“With Coach Lanier and the staff, it was just genuine,” Jones said. “He always said he cared about us more than basketball … He cares about us as  basketball players and  men.”

Entering his sophomore season, Jones takes that motivation and uses it to produce on the basketball court. While playing in all 32 games and starting 23 his freshman year, Jones prides himself on becoming the perfect “do everything” type of player. 

“The garbage player … that’s me,” Jones said. “He might not have 20 points a game … But he’s going to do the little things and bang down low. That’s me. That’s what people don’t get enough credit for.”

Jones’ statistics did not tell his story: 3.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game will never bounce off the stat sheet to anyone. But the hard work and motivation he received from his older brother translated into his play on the court and significantly contributed to the program. 

Being in the gym every day and showing his dedication to get better has made him a forceful rim protector. He finished his rookie season with 16 blocks. 

Jones, along with his teammates, has helped establish a winning culture in the Georgia State men’s basketball program, gearing them up to start the season with one goal on their mind.  

“We all just want to win,” Jones said. “We’re all already competitors … We all want to win and win a ring, keep going, get to the dance and keep winning.”