The 2019-20 season was one of success and continued development for Ariel Jones, the top player on the Shippensburg University women’s basketball team.
While she is known as a scorer — she’s averaged 23.2 points per game in her career — Jones has quietly tacked on different aspects to her game throughout her first three years at Shippensburg. Jones set career highs in blocks (20 total) and rebounds (5.3 per game) as a junior while helping the Raiders to a 21-9 record and a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division title, their most successful season since 2016-17.
Jones made strides in multiple areas on the court to become a more complete player since her freshman season. Head coach Kristy Trn spoke about Jones’ development throughout her first three collegiate seasons.
“I think she came out her first year basically known as a scorer,” Trn said. “I think she really stepped up her game on the defensive side of the ball this year.”
Trn said that the SU coaching staff focused on getting Jones more involved as a rebounder, too. She praised her development from a pure scorer to now a top-notch defender on the other end of the floor.
Jones blossomed into a multi-faceted player for the Raiders. In addition to scoring 22.3 points per game this season, she averaged 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. In the offseason, she focused specifically on improving her defensive abilities, leading to her averaging 1.7 steals and 0.7 blocks per game.
Jones said it was important for her to be adaptable to meet the needs of any situation her team was in.
“Some games I needed to be the scorer, and some games my team and coaches needed me to be able to stop a team’s best scorer,” Jones said. “Defense is something I really tried to work on this year.”
Jones earned numerous awards that recognized her play this season, including an honorable mention to the 2020 Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association (WBCA) All-America Team. Trn considers this to be Jones’ most impressive award.
“You are in the top 30 players in the country — as voted on by the coaches throughout the country — who are comparing their play with the other players in the region,” Trn said.
Jones is the first Raider recognized by the WBCA since Stephanie Knauer received the honorable mention in 2017.
The Lebanon, Pennsylvania native accrued multiple other awards at both the national and regional level. Jones was named to both the 2019-20 Division II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) All-Atlantic Region Women’s Basketball First Team and the D2CCA All-America Women’s Basketball Third Team.
Jones said the awards mean a lot to her.
“It shows that all the hard work I put in is paying off, and I have my coaches, teammates and family to thank for always pushing me to be better,” she said.
Jones also earned the PSAC Eastern Division Women’s Basketball Athlete of the Year award. She ranked third in the conference and ninth in the nation in points per game, averaging 22.3. For the second consecutive year, she also led the nation in both free throws made and attempted. She went 219-of-265 (82.6%) from the free-throw line this season.
It has been a successful three years on the court for Jones, who has already cemented herself in SU’s record books. Through three seasons, Jones has scored 1,969 points — the fifth most in school history. On the national level, Jones will enter her senior season as the NCAA Division II active career leader in both points and scoring average (23.2).
“I’m really excited to see what she’s going to do in her last year to finish out a storied career,” Trn said.
Jones already has had an accomplished career, and with one more season to go she can only achieve more.