For the third man on the Bearcats Blog Top 30 Countdown, we take things to the hardwood. We also put ourselves into a time machine and travel back to 1992 when this guy played. Number 28 is Herb Jones.
Herb Jones played just 2 seasons as a Cincinnati Bearcat. He won’t have his number 34 retired. Well duh because many people have worn number 34 since he wore it 20 years ago. But Herb Jones was a big time player for the Cincinnati Bearcats as they hit the swing towards national prominence. He was the best player on the 1990-91 and the 91-92 Final Four team. Nick Van Exel is the most memorable player from that team, but his great year was 93, not 92. For 2 seasons, Herb Jones was the man.
The 1990-91 Cincinnati Bearcats were the second Bearcat team under Bob Huggins. The 89-90 squad had won 20 games and brought back leading scorer and leading rebounder Louis Banks. Louis knew when to take a back seat to a better player. I don’t actually know if that is true, but I want to make Louis sound like he was a noble basketball player who was confident enough to be the Robin to Herb Jones’ Batman. After all, Louis was confident enough in his basketball skills that he took 52 three pointers in the 91 season. He made 15. That is not a good percentage. But for the sake of the story, Louis Banks took a passenger seat role while Herb Jones grabbed the wheel.
Herb Jones was anywhere from 6’2 to 6’4. His flattop may have made him actually 6’4. This was back in the early 90s when people wore flattops unironically because they actually thought they were cool. We can blame Kid n Play for this. I don’t have any idea what songs Kid n Play did. All I know is that they were in House Party. Their switching identities was nothing new, but it was entertaining. Every once in a while you see Kid on one of those VH1 shows talking about Yo! MTV Raps or I love the 80s part 82, but you never see Play. Maybe he died or went to jail. That wouldn’t have happened if he acted intellectual. What this has to do with Herb Jones, I don’t know.
Jones stepped on the floor with the Bearcats and took over in all aspects of the game. He took the most shots, 382, made the most shots, 192, had the best percentage, 50.3%. He was the best 3 point shooter on the team. He went 21-60, 35%. Tarrance Gibson had a higher percentage made, but he took only 32. Herb was not a great foul shooter though. He went 78-129, 60.5%. That still helped him lead the team with 16.1 points per game. Louis Banks averaged 15.5. Jones dominated the glass for the Cats. He pulled in 235 boards, the only Bearcat with over 200. That was good for 7.8 a game. He blocked just 12 shots, but that was second best on the team. He had 44 steals, 3rd on the team, 1.5 a game. He was also 3rd in assists with 62. that was 2.1 a game. 16.1, 7.8, 2.1, 1.5 steals is a hell of a stat line for your first season as a Bearcat. That was part of the reason that this season nabbed Herb Jones second team All-Metro Conference honors. Louis Banks, first team.
I don’t know how Louis Banks came across as a villain trying to upstage Herb Jones at the end of that first season write up either.
The 91-92 Bearcats are one of the most revered teams in Cincinnati history. They are the last team to go to the Final Four. They filled out the promise Bob Huggins laid when he took the Cincinnati job. After back to back seasons of 6 games over .500, the Bearcats went 29-5. It was the first year for the Bearcats in the Great Midwest. Herb Jones dominated. He was 230-417, 55.2% from the field. He was 118-173, 68% at the foul line, a marked improvement. He was the second best foul shooter on the team. He was the best 3 point shooter on the team, which seems a surprise with Anthony Buford and Van Exel. Herb hit 36-87 for 41.4%. He finished the season with 614 points, 18.1 a game. For the second year, he led the Bearcats in rebounding. He had 240, 7.06 a game, so let’s say 7.1 a game. He was 5th on the team in assists, but that was with 61 of them, 1.8 a game. That team was very good at passing. He had 39 steals, 1.14 a game. That was tied with Corie Blount for 3rd on the team. Jones, finally with big men down low to help him out, was not second on the team in blocks. He blocked 9 shots, which was 4th. His 18.1, 7.1, 1.8, 1.14 steals line helped make Jones a first team All-Great Midwest selection.
The first round foe for the Bearcats in the NCAA tournament were the Delaware Blue Hens. The Blue Hens were clearly no match for the Cats, as UC won 85-47. In 28 minutes, Jones went 6-9 for 13 points, with 5 rebounds and 2 assists. In the second round, the Bearcats met up with the team that had given them their first loss of the season, Michigan State. The Spartans pulled off a big comeback to win that one with a 3 with 6 seconds to go. The Bearcats got another big lead on them and were able to hold them off this time, winning 77-65. Jones played 35 minutes against the Spartans. He scored 15 points on 3-7, 8-13 at the foul line, with 7 boards and 2 assists.
The Sweet Sixteen saw the Bearcats play UTEP after the Miners beat top seed Kansas. Erik Martin made a couple free throws late to ice the game for the Cats, a 69-67 win. The star of the game was Jones. Herb played 37 minutes with a game high 24 points. He went 8-17 from the field and 8-9 from the line. He had a team high 6 boards to boot. The good times continued for Jones and the Bearcats as they trucked Memphis State 88-57 to advance to the Final Four. Jones put up 23-13 to pace the Cats. He hit 9-13 from the field and 4-4 at the stripe. He also had 2 assists. It was no surprise when Herb Jones was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Midwest Region.
With the Bearcats in the Final Four against Michigan, Herb Jones had a nice first half with 9 points to help Cincinnati gain a 3 point halftime lead. According to this article, James Voskuil entered the game to guard Jones and that put the clamps on Herb. He was 2-8 in the second half. The Bearcats blew a 7 point second half lead and Michigan won. Jones finished with 14 points on 5-13 shooting and 5 rebounds.
Why He Made the List
Herb Jones made this list because he was the best player on one of the best teams in Cincinnati history. Because of how our memories work, I remember Herb Jones dunking every single shot he ever made. That clearly wasn’t the case, but that’s how I remember him. The sands of time have covered up some of Jones’ accomplishments. Anthony Buford and Terry Nelson hung around the program in a public manner. Nick Van Exel and Corie Blount went on to play in the NBA. Jones was one of the main players that took the Bearcats to the next level. Plus, his t shirt under the jersey made us all feel less dorky for rocking that look in grade school.
What He’s Doing Now
From this article written in November, and this from October, Jones both works in concessions management and for a shipping and distributing firm. Jones played overseas basketball for a while. So if you were at a Bengals game last year and you thought that Herb Jones was working there, you were right. It was him. To end this on an even more depressing note, that card pictured earlier is selling for 19 cents. I’m sure Louis Banks is behind this.
This article wouldn’t have been possible without Total Basketball Stats.