As WVUIE97 and I were kicking back after Saturday's win over Georgetown and taking in the NFL Wild Card games, we got to talking about the greatness of Kevin Jones. Jones has been nothing short of spectacular this season, leading the Big East in both scoring (19.9 ppg) and rebounding (11.5 rpg) while leading the upstart Mountaineers to a surprising 12-5 record. That record has included wins over a very good Kansas State team in Wichita and a home win over a top-ten Georgetown team. I don't think anyone would disagree that the Mountaineers' start wouldn't have been possible but for KJ's stellar play. So I posed the question: who would you rather have, Kevin Jones or Da'Sean Butler?
We kicked around the question for a bit. Da'Sean hit all those game winning shots, but was he as consistent as KJ? Kevin is a prolific rebounder and can also hit the three, but can he create his own shot like Da' did? Should team wins matter? If so, how do you account for the supporting cast? Finally, after much back and forth, we decided to pose the question to you.
Is the answer as easy as you might guess at first? Let's look at the stats. First, for Da'Sean:
And now, for KJ:
The stats definitely aren't as far off as I originally thought they would be. Obviously, as the more versatile player who was forced to play point guard at times throughout his career, Butler has more assists and turnovers, but fewer blocks. KJ, who plays more down low, has the higher shooting percentage and more blocks, as you might expect.
There is no doubt that Butler is the flashier player. He's the guy who probably pops into your mind first when thinking of great Mountaineers of the last decade. And with good reason. He was versatile, handling both the point and both forward positions at various times during his career. He could create off the dribble, shoot the three, and bang inside with the Big East's best forwards. And he was charismatic, with a flair for the dramatic. When you needed a clutch shot or a big defensive play, Da' was the guy. He would hit the shot or make the block, then flash his famous smile. His leadership was unparalleled.
But what about KJ? Certainly not as flashy, or as versatile. But could he be better? Few players have been as consistent on the scoreboard or on the glass as Kevin Jones. No matter the opponent, you know you're going to get somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 and 10 night in and night out. There's something to be said for that. And what about what Kevin has been asked to do this year? With bigger scoring threats gone, Jones has been asked to take on more offensive responsibility and to provide more leadership. Judging by WVU's record and this year's stats, he's done just that. Not to mention pouring in huge performances in the Mountaineers' two signature wins. Without a doubt, KJ has answered the bell this year.
And how about their winning? Obviously, both contributed to the first round loss to Dayton in 2009 and to the epic Final Four run in 2010. Butler played a role on the 2007 Sweet Sixteen team and stepped up some on the 2008 NIT Championship squad, while KJ was a key factor in last year's second round exit.
Combined, their talents (along with the exploits of Devin Ebanks and a host of role players) led WVU to its first Final Four in 50 years. That's no accident. Whatever we can say about the play of both Da'Sean and KJ, they are special breeds, rarely seen around Morgantown. Enjoy them while you can.