Basketball: Ex-UNT players head to LSU, ASU

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Chris Jones, shown playing with North Texas on Feb. 15, is transferring to Angelo State to play his senior season.

Alexis Hyder and Chris Jones have found new homes after leaving the North Texas basketball programs.

Hyder, a two-year starter for the UNT women’s team, is headed to LSU, while Jones, who spent three years playing for the UNT men’s team, will play his senior season at Angelo State.

LSU women’s coach Nikki Caldwell announced Tuesday that Hyder has signed with the Tigers.

Jones confirmed Monday that he will play for the Rams, a member of the Division II Lone Star Conference.

Jones will be eligible this season. Hyder will sit out the 2014-15 campaign and will then have two years of eligibility remaining.

“I have a connection with the coaches,” Jones said of the staff at ASU. “I have known them since high school. Chris Beard is the head coach and was at Texas Tech when I was in high school. He recruited Toddrick Gotcher, one of my teammates.”

Jones endured some tough times during his three years at UNT and thanked his teammates and coaches for helping him through them. He was ruled academically ineligible for the second semester of his freshman season at UNT in 2011-12 and missed 16 games as a sophomore after breaking his foot in a game at Western Kentucky.

Despite those setbacks, Jones ranks sixth in school history with 282 career assists and third in career steals with 127. He scored 648 career points in 66 games.

“I could have accomplished more if I was healthy and eligible for those two years,” Jones said. “What I did I couldn’t have done without my teammates.”

Jones ranked third among UNT players with an average of 7.5 points a game last season, when he led the team with 127 assists. UNT finished 16-16 in Jones’ final season at UNT.

Jones played his first year with the Mean Green under former head coach Johnny Jones and averaged 14.1 points and 4.3 assists a game. Chris Jones said he never found the same comfort level playing for Tony Benford in his last two seasons at UNT.

Chris Jones averaged 9.2 points and 4.6 assists a game as a sophomore.

“I didn’t have the freedom I had under coach Jones and wasn’t sure of my role a lot of the time,” Jones said. “I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do.”

Benford moved quickly to fill the void left by Jones, adding Texas A&M transfer J-Mychal Reese, a point guard who is hoping to receive a waiver from the NCAA that would make him eligible this year.

UNT returns its leading scorer in Jordan Williams, a shooting guard who averaged 12.0 points a game last season.

“We have a talented group and are excited about the new guys we are bringing in,” Benford said after Jones left the program. “Our guards will be as good as any in the league. Jordan is an all-league player. Our wings are as talented as anyone’s in Conference USA. We also have a lot of guys who can handle the ball.”

Hyder was well on her way to becoming one of the top players in the history of UNT’s women’s program when she elected to transfer. She averaged 11.3 points a game last season, when UNT finished 12-18.

The former Austin LBJ standout averaged 14.2 points and 8.8 rebounds a game and earned third-team All-Sun Belt honors as a freshman. Hyder was on pace to become just the third 1,500-point scorer in school history after scoring 753 points in her two seasons at UNT.

Hyder will join an LSU team that has won 20 games in three consecutive seasons and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament in each of the last two years.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.


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