[cleeng_content id="152378219" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]CHARLES TOWN – As twins, Jerome and Maleke Jones are undoubtedly individuals with stark differences in personality and courtside attributes.
Jerome is taller, wears dreads and is considered by those close to him a bit quieter and more reserved. At 6-4, he’s a powerful small forward with strong rebounding skills, a good outside shot and, at least with this reporter, quick to note that he is a minute older than his brother.
Maleke stands 6-2, wears his hair short and has an infectious smile that is as representative of Washington’s success on the basketball court as it is of his seemingly outgoing charisma. He’s a point guard with good speed and ability to drive through the lane, but who’s just as likely to mix it up in the paint as to sink a crucial 3-pointer.
They hold largely different academic schedules, except for the first-period math class they share, and they are not identical twins.
But together the Joneses have established themselves as two-fifths of a Patriots’ starting lineup that has dominated much of its competition en route to a No. 1 state ranking every week since the preseason. Along with fellow starters Dominique Newman, Kendell Smith and Josh Dudley, the Joneses bring Washington a level of familiarity and camaraderie enjoyed by few other teams.
“They both work hard,” said Washington coach Don Bullett. “Maleke is probably our best defensive player. A lot of times we put him on other teams’ best players. He just constantly keeps pressure on you and keeps working.
“Jerome, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a kid rebound like he rebounds,” Bullett added. “But he can shoot, too. You’ve got to get out there on him. He’s really gained in his confidence over the years and his range.”
Growing up in Ranson, the brothers have always played organized sports on the same teams. But they said they do maintain a healthy sibling rivalry, including with NBA 2K on PlayStation and shooting hoops 1-on-1 at the park.
“He doesn’t want to get started with that,” Jerome said. “I used to always beat him.”
“I’ll admit it, he beat me,” Maleke added.
“We’re competitive in everything,” Jerome said. “But we’re pretty much best friends.”
This year, Jerome has combined strong outside shooting with intense inside play to rank second on the team in scoring with 15.2 points per game. He also leads the Patriots with an average of nearly eight boards per game.
“I’m more of a shooter and I’ll crash the boards,” Jerome said when asked about the difference between himself and Maleke. “He’ll go to the basket and play defense. He’s quicker than me, but I’m stronger.”
“I’m faster,” Maleke added. “I’ll bring the ball up. He’s got the better shot, but I’ve got the better driving abilities and the defense, too.”
From his slot at point guard, Maleke has utilized a combination of crisp passing and timely shooting to dish a team-high 40 assists while also averaging 12 points per game. His 29-point performance – including 21 points in the second half – against then-No. 6 Musselman helped pave the wave during the Patriots’ 91-64 trouncing of the Applemen.
Such overwhelming victories have been the norm for an undefeated Washington (14-0) this year, as a seasoned veteran lineup has matured after the program’s postseason trip to Charleston in 2013.
“We always know where we’re going to be at on the court,” Maleke said about his teammates. “It’s hard to describe. But it’s that chemistry.”
“We’ve got to stay focused and keep working as a team,” Jerome added. “Keep working hard in practice and everything should be good.”
Bullett said the brothers have been garnering interest from small colleges in the region, including Division II Fairmont State and Davis & Elkins, both in West Virginia. He said they have also generated interest from out of state schools, including Division III Hood College (Maryland) and Eastern Mennonite University (Virginia).
“Wherever they go they’re going to be successful,” Bullett said. “They’re great kids. Their parents have done a great job with them.”