STORM LAKE - Adam Jones met Buena Vista head coach Brian Van Haaften at a basketball camp during his sophomore year at Jefferson-Scranton High School.
Van Haaften thought that Jones was an excellent player and liked his work ethic at that time. He also added that "he had high expectations and that hasn't changed one bit since."
During his career at Jefferson-Scranton, Jones was named to the Raccoon River all-conference first team in his sophomore, junior and senior years. He was also a second team Class 3A Iowa Newspaper Association all-state selection in his junior year and a first team INA selection in his senior year. He was also a Des Moines Register Class 3A first team selection during his senior year.
When Jones decided where to go to college his senior year, he passed over scholarships from Truman State University and the West Point Academy and decided to come to Buena Vista.
One reason why Jones came to Buena Vista was Van Haaften's development of a winning tradition at Buena Vista.
"Coach Van Haaften is a great coach," Jones said. "He's got a great basketball mind, he knows how to win games, and he's very intense. But, at the same time, I think he still has the respect from his players and it's a great quality as a coach to be able to have respect from his players and it's a great quality as a coach to be able to have respect for your players at the same time to be friends with your players."
When Jones came to Buena Vista in the 1998-99 season as a freshman, he was unknown as a shooter and a scorer. He added that when teammates got him the ball, he became more of a scorer. It showed when he led the team in scoring that season.
Van Haaften, who has been very impressed with his work ethic and career at Buena Vista, said that Jones was "the perfect compliment to this team" when he played with former teammates Landon Roth, Brett Smith and Nolan Stribe.
"He was the recipient of many drives and dishes for 3's from those teammates," Van Haaften said."
Jones also knew Smith, a former Guthrie Center star, and Stribe, a former Carroll star, from his high school basketball days.
The 1999-00 season was fun for Jones. He led the team in scoring and was named the MVP of the Iowa Conference after leading the Beavers to the regular season title. He also led the Beavers to a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament after winning the conference tournament.
Jones earned All-America honors after leading the Beavers to the Sweet 16 that year.
"As the year went on we became more and more confident within ourselves and believed we can win," Jones said. Winning the conference was a lot of fun, as well as the Sweet 16 and the tournament games."
Last season ended in a bitter way for Jones and the Beavers as they didn't qualify for the national tournament after losing to Wartburg in the conference tournament championship game.
"It's always tough to repeat as conference champions," Jones said. "I can't remember when the last time someone won the conference back-to-back years. You seem to have the target on your back and people give you their best games."
Still, Jones led the team in scoring and was a first team Iowa Conference selection.
Van Haaften said that he is most proud of Jones' ability to be a great team player.
"He could score more points, but he never ever has talked about his stats," Van Haaften said. "He is much more concerned with team success, willing to shoulder the blame when we haven't played well, and give out the credit when we have played well. That is what you need out of your leader, and he definitely has those skills of leadership. Adam is a great guy, who can really shoot the basketball. He has worked very hard at developing his game, and no one has outworked him. He deserves all the success he has achieved."
This season, the Beavers have had some ups and downs. However, they got by the toughest part of their conference schedule by winning at Wartburg, Central and Simpson to become one of the co-leaders in a conference where the competition is more level than past years as Jones pointed out. The Knights, Dutch and Storm are expected to finish in the upper division of the Iowa Conference along with Coe, who is tied for the conference lead with Buena Vista.
"This season, we keep getting better game by game," Jones said. "I think we put ourselves in position to make another run at a conference title like we have every year and I'm very confident in what the team can do."
The season opener at Wartburg, according to Jones, was marked on the Beavers' calendar and a great feeling to win there after losing all three of their meetings with the Knights last season.
"Wartburg is going to have the target on their backs since they won the conference last year," Jones said."We know what it feels like to have that target, but we want to go out and beat them because we believe that we're a better team and we went out there and did what we needed to do."
The difference between the Beavers of this season and the 2000 Sweet 16 team, according to Jones, is that this season's team is more post-oriented.
"We got the best post players in the conference and we need to get them the ball more often," Jones said. "As a team, in general, we have the same amount of talent if not more athletic ability and more talent than we did that year. We just need to keep working. And once we get that same mentality as my sophomore year, I think we'll be just as tough."
In a couple of weeks, the Beavers will play in the California Lutheran Holiday tournament with California Lutheran and Gettysburg, both rated in the top 25 in Division III and national tournament qualifiers from a season ago.
"I think it's a good way for us to get respect within our region and to keep this winning streak we got alive," Jones said.
Jones has played his part. He leads the team in scoring and has shot over 86 percent from the free-throw line this season.
Jones' free-throw shooting has had its ups and downs during his career at Buena Vista.
"My free-throw shooting has been inconsistent but I wouldn't say that has been something I have had trouble with," Jones said. "Free-throw shooting is strictly mental."
Jones also said that a part of his game that he has been trying to improve the most is his ability to put the ball on the floor and take the ball to the basket.
"Putting the ball on the floor and become a better defensive player are the two parts of my game that I have put a lot of work on the past three years," Jones said.
According to Van Haaften, Jones is a critical part of the Beavers' success this season.
"He is why our posts have played so well, this season," Van Haaften said. "He is getting a lot of attention and leaving more room for everyone else. Make no mistake about it, Adam can play better, and I know he will the second half of this season."
Jones would like to end his college career with one more conference title. Van Haaften believes that he will do what he'll have to do to make that a reality.
"As he gets a feel for what others are trying to do, he will figure out a way to be more effective, and make this team a contender for the league title," he said. "This is important to Adam and he will do whatever it takes for this team to have a successful year. You just wait and see."