Jones sticking with football only

Updated: December 8, 2004, 11:31 PM ET
Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones will not play basketball this year, but freshman two-sport threat Marcus Monk will make the transition from the gridiron to the hardcourt.

Jones has played two seasons of basketball for the Razorbacks, and there was speculation over the summer that he would skip his senior season of football to focus on hoops.

But Jones returned to lead the football team one last season, ending the year hampered by a groin injury and a pulled hamstring.

Athletic department spokesman Robby Edwards said Wednesday that Jones elected to skip basketball to work toward a pro football career.

"He's just going to concentrate on working out for NFL scouts and all that," he said.

Monk has already worked out with the basketball team and dressed for the Illinois game, but did not play. He was unavailable for Tuesday night's win at Missouri because he was in New York accepting a National High School Scholar Athlete award from the National Football Foundation.

The basketball team doesn't play again until hosting Tennessee State on Dec. 16, after the break for exams, and Monk said in a telephone interview that he plans to join the team full-time by then.

A 6-6 forward on the basketball court, Jones set the Class AAAAA-West scoring record at 24.5 points per game in high school at Fort Smith Northside.

He played on former coach Nolan Richardson's last team as a freshman and saw playing time in 11 of 16 games, averaging 4.2 points and 2.3 rebounds.

Jones did not play in 2003 after injuring his right shoulder on the football field. But last year, he played in his first basketball game three days after leading Arkansas to a 27-14 win over Missouri in the Independence Bowl.

In 17 games, including 10 starts, Jones averaged 5 points and 4.5 rebounds.

An all-state selection in football and basketball at East Poinsett County High School last year, Monk was considered by some the top hardcourt prospect in the state. As a senior, he averaged 20.8 points, 16.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 3.8 blocked shots and 2.5 steals per game.

As a true freshman receiver for the Razorbacks this year, he played in all 11 games and was the second-leading receiver with 37 catches for 569 yards and six touchdowns.

Monk said he's still a little sore from football season, but is looking forward to getting onto the basketball court.

Coach Stan Heath was unavailable for comment Wednesday. But in the team media guide, he said he expects Monk to be a strong contributor immediately.

"He is a talented, versatile athlete. He could end up being one of our best defensive players on the perimeter," Heath said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press