It would be easy to define Lex Jones by the numbers she is putting up this season for the Augustana women’s basketball team.
In what is proving to be a breakout campaign, the junior guard is averaging a career-best 15.8 points per game and is leading the team with a 7.8 per game rebounding average. She also leads the 7-5 Vikings with 35 steals. For good measure, she is usually charged with defending an opponent’s top player.
But one of the numbers that stands out the most in regards to this young lady — young being the operative word — and what she is doing for the Vikings is that on Sunday she celebrated her 19th birthday.
When she started college out of Chicago Marist High School, she was 16 and had her driver’s license for just over six months.
Let that sink in.
“It was kind of scary,” said Jones, reflecting on her transition from high school. “Part of why I picked Augie was because it’s close to home and being 16, I think I needed that lifeline at that point.”
Now, Jones has become a legitimate force for the Vikings.
While she averaged 10.1 points last season, she has worked herself into being a different level of player. She looks more confident on the court and is making basketball moves that you don’t usually see in the women’s game — especially at the Division III level. She exhibits the ability to both drive to the basket and post-up foes as the result of growing up as a post player.
"At the time I had the height,” said Jones with a smile. “My dad was 6-5 and I figured I was going to keep growing. I got to my sophomore year of high school and stopped growing at about 5-6. Then me and my dad worked on ball-handling after that and transformed me into a guard. You can see in my game I love the post and that’s where I’m more natural in my shooting.”
However, coach Mark Beinborn has enjoyed seeing all of Jones’ growth — on and off the court.
"Her emotional and mental maturity is amazing,” Beinborn said. "She continues to not surprise me anymore, but impresses me with how she is and how she carries herself and her drive and her focus. She is an impressive individual.”
Jones admitted that the transition wasn’t that tough. After all, she was accustomed to playing basketball with older teammates her entire career. Jones said her late birthday and the fact she skipped second grade were how she ended up being such a young student for her class.
Beinborn was also confident that Jones would handle the adjustment because of the teammates she was joining at the time.
“It was such a good group of kids and the culture was getting to the point where I felt a 16-year-old kid could come in and thrive,” Beinborn said. “I felt a big responsibility, being a father myself, with her coming in as a 16-year-old.”
“It wasn’t too bad transitioning from my team who I was close to in high school,” said Jones, a political science and French double-major with aspirations of heading to law school. “That kind of helped me with this team and having that support system with Coach B and him knowing I was young and just being there to check in and see how I was doing.”
Jones, whose given name is Alexis but prefers Lex, quickly found out it was a big jump to the college game.
“Basketball-wise, it took some getting used to,” Jones said. “The girls were bigger, for one. When I came in, that was when (6-foot-5) Kaycee Kallenberger was in here beating us up every day. And the game was just faster. I felt like I was behind everyone on speed and working out and just being strong.”
That has gradually changed and she is proving to be one of the top players in the CCIW along with senior teammate Izzy Anderson, whom Jones said has been a good role model.
“I’ve learned to embrace the physicality and knowing what I need to do on the court is the big thing,” Jones said.
She laughed recalling her introduction to the college came even before her freshman season started and the new recruits were put up against the returning lettermen in a scrimmage. She also recalled after getting hammered in a few games that she rallied the newbies and helped lead a couple of victories.
“I was never the player who was relied on offensively,” said Jones of her prep days when Beinborn said she played with six other collegiate recruits. “I was always the one to shut down the best player on the other team with defense and rebounding. Having to gather the girls together that were older than me and more experienced than me, was a new role, but I said I think I can do it and have to do it.”
This season, Jones is doing it better than ever and showing that she has grown into a well-rounded basketball player and young lady.