Cameron Jones was a sight to behold on the basketball court.
“Crazy athletic,” Patrick Henry High School boys basketball coach Jack Esworthy said. “He would have some crazy hops and some crazy dunks.”
“You would’ve thought he had springs in his legs,” former PH guard Christian Kirchman said. “I’ve seen him dunk on 7-footers.”
Jones, a former standout at both Patrick Henry and Radford University, died late last week at the age of 29.
He died from injuries sustained in a car accident in the Richmond area, his mother, Angela Jones, said Monday night in a phone interview. She was informed of his death in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
Cameron Jones lived and worked in the Richmond area. He was a sixth-grade English teacher at Elko Middle School in Henrico County. He also coached the school’s boys basketball team.
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“I saw a huge change in my basketball team’s attitude, their grades, as a result of his coaching them,” Elko Middle School principal Herman Mizell said Tuesday. “Many of our kids would come in wanting to be athletes; they forget about the student part. But that’s what Mr. Jones emphasized, student-athlete, because he went to Radford and played basketball. He could share his experiences with the students and that made the difference.”
Jones grew up in Roanoke with his mother, Angela, and his older brother, Chris.
“He was my best friend,” his mother said.
“He was like my counselor, the voice in my head,” his brother said. “My best friend.”
Cameron played basketball as a kid because of his big brother.
“I played basketball, he played basketball. He followed everything I did,” Chris Jones said.
Cameron Jones was a junior reserve on the PH team that made the 2010 Group AAA state semifinals.
“He was just a really good person, had a great heart,” Esworthy said. “He really loved basketball.
“He was a joy to coach. He was fun to be around.”
Jones led the Patriots to a second straight Western Valley District title and a berth in the 2011 Northwest Region semifinals as a senior, when he averaged 16.2 points.
“Everybody loved to throw him alley-oops,” former PH guard B.J. Hamlett said.
Jones earned second-team All-Timesland honors as a PH senior.
“Cam [was] funny, always joking, always putting a smile on somebody’s face,” Kirchman said. “Always somebody you wanted to be around.”
Hamlett had been friends with Jones since elementary school. They were teammates in middle school, high school and AAU.
“I never had as many friends as he did,” Hamlett said. “We’d go somewhere and pretty much everybody knows him.”
After shining for PH, Jones spent a postgraduate year at Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock for academic reasons.
“Super talented,” said former Massanutten coach Chad Myers, now an assistant at New Mexico State. “We had seven Division I players on that [2011-12] team and I thought he was our third-most talented guy. … Long, athletic, young kid that played inside a little bit in high school but was really a perimeter player.”
While at Massanutten, Jones signed with NCAA Division I member Kennesaw State. But he wound up playing for Brunswick Community College in North Carolina instead of Kennesaw for academic reasons.
“I started to take school more seriously [at Brunswick],” Jones told The Roanoke Times in a 2016 interview. “I left there with a 3.0 [GPA] — think it was a 2.9, actually. It helped me mature, that’s what I say Brunswick did for me.”
Jones did so well at Brunswick that he wound up signing with Radford.
Then-Radford coach Mike Jones (no relation to Cameron) saw him score 42 points and make six 3-pointers in a Brunswick game.
“I’ve never gone to see a recruit and been more excited about a young man after watching him play,” Mike Jones, now the coach at UNC Greensboro, said in a phone interview.
Cameron Jones averaged 8.5 points and 17.9 minutes off the bench a Radford junior guard in the 2014-15 season. He made 45 3-pointers for a Radford team that won 22 games.
The 6-foot-4 Jones ranked seventh in the Big South in scoring as a senior starter in the 2015-16 season with an average of 14.9 points. He earned All-Big South honorable mention.
“Just a joy to be around,” Mike Jones said. “A phenomenally talented player.”
Cameron Jones ranked sixth in the Big South as a senior with 75 3-pointers.
He scored in double figures in 22 games that year, including 35 points in a win over Campbell; 23 points in a win at Penn State; 20 points in a win at Georgetown; and 16 points against Virginia Tech. He helped Radford have another winning season.
“He was as talented an offensive player as I’ve ever coached,” Mike Jones said. “When I was at Georgia, we didn’t have players that were more talented than him offensively. When I was at VCU, he was more talented than any of those guys.
“He could score at all three levels. Had he been with us for four years, I think he would’ve been a 2,000-point scorer.”
Cameron Jones ranks third in Radford history in career 3-point field-goal percentage (40.3%).
He played professionally in Denmark and in the Czech Republic after his college career concluded.
Although he majored in communications at Radford, he became a teacher.
“The kids worked for him. They loved him,” Mizell said. “Kids will work for you if they like you.”
Jones had a 3-year-old daughter, Kehlani.
“He was the best dad,” Angela Jones said.