© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
The Purdue staff received their second commitment for the class of 2008 on Tuesday when 6'4 Arkansas post Chelsea Jones accepted a scholarship offer to attend Purdue. The staff has four available scholarships to offer members of this rising senior class, two now spoken for by Jones and Attica standout Brittany Rayburn.
Jones averaged 22.3 points and 9.8 rebounds for Fort Smith Southside as a junior, and rose to be named one of the state's top prospects in a rather short amount of time. Her recruiting began picking up after a run of all-star honors during the July evaluation period last summer, and a three-game series at the Tournament of Champions last December, where she scored 21 points against defending 2005 tournament champion Witchita Heights, then ranked No.21 nationally by USA Today.
Jones is grouped among a handful of high Division I talent that includes Shekinna Stricklin of Morrilton, Kelsey Hatcher of Central Arkansas Christian, and Julie Inman of Carlisle. Stricklin has committed to play for the Lady Vols, while Inman was former Purdue coach Tom Collen's first recruit at Arkansas this spring.
She averaged 17.5 points, 10 rebounds and 3.5 blocks as a sophomore. Southside qualified for the Arkansas 7A state tournament in 2007 after missing the event her sophomore year.
"She’s a dominant offensive player, but more than that, she can dominate on defense and rebounding," Fort Smith Northside’s head coach Rickey Smith told the Arkansas Gazette after facing the crosstown post player this past season. "She changes the way the game is played with her size and length."
Jones can run the floor at 6'4, and was scouted at the Susie Gardner Elite Camp last summer as possessing "outstanding athleticism" for someone her age and size. She can go one-on-one, and scores easily with either hand. She is also an above average passer, which was evident on senior night when she passed for a team-high six assists while being double-teamed all night.
Jones chose Purdue after a June unofficial visit over interest from Arkansas, Kansas, Vanderbilt and Stanford among others.