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The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

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Former Kit Lance Jones makes national headlines for No. 2 Boilermakers

The graduate student, who played for ETHS between 2015 and 2019, has tallied double figure points in seven out of his last eight games.
Lance+Jones+put+up+26+points+in+Purdues+overtime+victory+over+Northwestern+on+earlier+tonight.
Lia Kelly
Lance Jones put up 26 points in Purdue’s overtime victory over Northwestern on earlier tonight.

When Purdue was stunned by No. 16 seeded Fairleigh Dickinson in an embarrassing loss in the Round of 64 in last year’s NCAA Tournament, Purdue head coach Matt Painter knew he needed to find an experienced backbone guard to have a legitimate chance at a title run in 2024. At that same time, Evanston alum Lance Jones entered his name into the transfer portal, exercising his fifth year of eligibility after a very solid career at Southern Illinois. Little did anyone know, the 328th ranked transfer would be headed to West Lafayette for his graduate year.

After Jones arrived on campus and practiced during the preseason with the Boilermakers, he was faced with a tragic loss back home. In August of 2023, Jones’ father passed away.

“You look at the tragedy that Lance was faced with– he dealt with losing his father at the start of the season– and he didn’t miss a beat. Lance is a person that the glass is always half full with,” said Evanston head coach Mike Ellis, who coached Jones at Evanston from 2015 to 2019.

Despite being faced with a massive loss in his family, the Evanston alum never missed a beat with the No. 2 ranked Boilermakers. 

As of recently, Jones has completely found his stride and is playing the best basketball of his five-year college career, averaging 12 PPG and leading Purdue alongside reigning Naismith Player of the Year, Zach Edey.

To go along with his solid offensive production, Jones’ play on the other side of the ball is earning him praise from the media and Boilermaker fans alike. His perimeter defense night in and night out has provided Purdue with the consistency they have needed. Jones has successfully guarded some of the best point guards in the country from Northwestern’s Boo Buie, to Maryland’s Jahmir Young and the rest of the country’s top offensive talent to offer.

“He’s such a solid defender. You can’t look at the box score of Purdue games to see just how Lance is affecting those games,” Ellis stated.

This past Saturday against Rutgers, Jones proved that. His shot didn’t fall like it usually has, but the grad senior was still a huge presence for the Boilermakers. Jones chipped in ten rebounds, eight assists, and a whopping five steals in Purdue’s big road win in Piscataway.

Two games ago against Michigan in Mackey Arena, Jones put together a dominant performance.  The Evanston alum led Purdue to a lopsided home win against a struggling Michigan team, 99-67, while leading the team with 24 points– his season-high– to go along with three steals. In the three games prior to his offensive hiatus in Piscataway, Jones averaged an eye-popping 19.3 PPG.

“What a pickup. What an unheralded pickup that he was for this Purdue team,” said Big Ten Network analyst and Purdue Basketball alum Robbie Hummel, referring to Jones.

Not only has Jones grown into a West Lafayette fan favorite with his tenacious play, but also with his dance moves. No, not dancing through the lane, but literally dancing with the Purdue fans during timeouts. 

“Lance is not just successful because of his love for the game or his talent– he is successful because of his personality and character,” explained Ellis. “It’s infectious.”

Jones has been dancing with the fans ever since the “Lance Dance” debut on January 5th in a win against Illinois. Despite being at Purdue for just half a season, the Evanston native has found a clear home in West Lafayette.

“It’s everything I imagined and more,” said Jones after a win in early December.

After the win last Tuesday, Jones reflected on his time at Purdue again in his postgame presser.

“[I am] forever grateful. I wouldn’t trade being with these guys for the world. So, this team means everything to me.”

On Wednesday, the Boilermakers found redemption against Northwestern, a team Jones and Purdue lost to in overtime earlier this season in Evanston, with Jones putting up 26 in the process. With the win, Purdue is tied for a two-way tie for first place with Wisconsin in the Big Ten standings.

If you haven’t hopped on the Lance train yet, do it soon. The local Evanston product is gaining national attention playing the best basketball of his career under the nation’s brightest lights.

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About the Contributors
Will Klearman, Opinion Columnist
Hey everyone! I’m Will Klearman (he/him) and this year I am an opinion columnist as well as a sports writer. I am a sophomore and this is my second year on staff. Being on The Evanstonian is great because it allows me to get an inside look on the sports at ETHS. I also love getting my opinion out there. Outside of The Evanstonian, I enjoy hanging out with friends, playing tennis and watching sports!
Lia Kelly, Photo and Art Editor
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