The Solomon of Swat

The more and more you talk with Solomon Jones, the more you realize that blocking shots is a lot like comedy.

It’s all about timing.

“Good timing and effort,” the 6-foot-10 center said. “I just go up and get ’em.”

With 41 blocks this season, the Bulls forward ranks third in Conference USA in the category and has already secured at least the eighth-best shot-blocking season in USF history.

Jones will be hard-pressed to surpass Gerrick Morris’ 108-block season last season, but the steady Jones will give it a try. Morris, who played from 2001-04, is also the career shot-block leader with 263.

“Gerrick would get eight or nine in one game and then maybe two the next,” senior guard Brian Swift said. “But Solomon is so consistent with it.”

In his first year at USF, Jones has had only a mere 15 games (all of which he started) to become accustomed to the speed and skill of Division-1 basketball.

Despite the inexperience, it didn’t take long for Jones to establish himself as one of the conference’s top shot blockers. In his seventh game as a Bull, Jones roughed up Grand Canyon State for six blocks and has totaled at least four blocks in four games.

But Jones isn’t solely a swatter.

Long and lanky, Jones has shown promise in the low post and on the glass. He leads the team in field goal percentage (.556), is third on the team in scoring (7.7) and second in rebounding (7).

The junior’s best game came in USF’s 63-47 win over Prairie View A&M. In 27 minutes he 18 points, seven rebounds, three blocks, three steals and two assists.

After that game, coach Robert McCullum said he saw a more aggressive Jones. And he liked it, saying Jones, who transferred this season from Daytona Beach Community College, is “extremely coachable. He is still learning but he did nothing with our team prior to the first week of October so it’s almost miraculous how far he has come in such a short period of time.”

In terms of that aggressiveness, Jones’ dunks are top-notch. They are Shaq-like in both energy and style.

More telling, though, is that his blocks are just as lively.

“My teammates told me that if I don’t score, if I can get a couple blocks here and there, it can energize the team,” Jones said.

Swift said a Solomon rejection not only excites his teammates, it excites the crowd.”I think it’s the same thing (as a big dunk),” he said. “To come down there and have a big block, it gets the crowd in the game.”

Jones is sure to go down as one of USF’s most prominent shot blockers. His name should be mentioned with the likes of Morris and Curtis Kitchen, who is second on the

USF career blocks list with 257.

But as far as the single-season record is concerned, Jones isn’t too worried.

“I don’t think about it,” he said. “If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

When everything — the timing, the leap and the swinging off the arm all come together — the swat is one of basketball’s most intimidating displays, usually prompting mockery of the rejected.

“It’s like, ‘Yeah, I got you,'” Jones said.

For the Bulls, it’s a comedy routine that will never get old.