She’s marching in with the Saints.
Former Bishop Ford basketball star Aaliyah Jones is leaving Fordham University to join the Saints at Siena College — a program that recruited her during high school. She spent the first two seasons of her college basketball career in the Bronx, but after facing her fair share of challenges in back-to-back years, the guard decided she needed a change of scenery. It’s been a long and winding road for Jones, but now she’s confident she’s finally found the perfect fit.
“I feel like the support I got at Siena and with coach Ali [Jacques] when she was recruiting me again this time, it was different than before,” Jones said. “I know whatever obstacle I face, she’ll always be there to support me. Even if I’m not out on the court, she’s going to be there supporting me and giving me the best advice for my future and me as a person.”
Jones’s high-school career was filled with ups and downs — she transferred to Murry Bergtraum after leading Bishop Ford to a class AA Federation championship in 2013 — but the former Courier Life all-Brooklyn player of the year is ready to put down roots at Siena.
“I really like what coach Ali is doing at Siena because she’s building,” Jones said. “I like the fact that she’s growing a program and that’s the kind of team I always wanted to be around. It’s not a set team, and she’s still working and growing with her players.”
Jones initially selected Fordham over Siena because it was closer to home, but her first two seasons with the Rams were far from perfect.
She played just three games as a freshman before suffering a season-ending injury and averaged just 9.4 minutes per game as a sophomore.
Jones knew she needed to branch out and started scoping out her transfer options shortly after her sophomore season wrapped up.
She reached out to former Murry Bergtraum teammate Joella Gibson, and the two started discussing a reunion at Siena. It didn’t take long for the Saints to come calling — again — and this time, Jones was ready to head upstate.
“I was looking for a better opportunity for my career,” Jones said. “When I realized Siena was recruiting me, I realized they were really interested again and that helped my decision a lot.”
Jones will be required to sit out this season, per National Collegiate Athletic Association transfer regulations, but still has two years of eligibility remaining.
She fully intends to make the most of those two years at Siena. In the meantime, Jones is working on getting stronger, determined to become a player who can have an immediate impact on the court.
“Basically I need to refocus my mind to the point where I have to know what I can’t do,” Jones said. “I can’t do too much. So that’s going to make me a better player. I know I have the skills, I just have to reevaluate my game and then it should be good.”
It hasn’t been an easy journey for Jones, but she knows what she’s capable of. She was a champion at Ford and she’s anxious to experience that feeling again. It’s been a long time coming, but Ford finally feels as if she’s found a home.
“Mentally you have to be focused,” Jones said. “Sometimes it can break you, and sometimes it can make you. I’ve had my moments when it has broken me, but I know I’ve got support. I only see what’s ahead of me.”
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