By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Aaron Jones and Demarco Cox watch their Ole Miss teammates, old and new, go through the summer grind right now, and they do so with mixed feelings.
There’s the unquestioned desire to return to what’s been taken from them – basketball – but also the uncertainty of how their bodies will respond when they do.
Jones and Cox are both coming off surgeries, Cox more than one.
In a perfect world they would be primed and ready to step into new roles as the Rebels rebuild in the frontcourt after losing the school’s career-leading rebounder in Murphy Holloway and the career- leading shot-blocker in Reggie Buckner.
While both of them have played big minutes and produced as key reserves, both would carry more experience into the coming season if health had not evaded them.
Jones was playing at high level and was the top post reserve when he tore his ACL in late January against Kentucky, the Rebels’ seventh SEC game.
By that time it was already determined that Cox would need a second surgery for a stress fracture in his foot.
He is expected to be granted a medical redshirt and regain last season’s eligibility.
For now what both hope to regain is trust in their re-made body parts.
“I can play on it, but it’s not a hundred percent that it won’t re-fracture on me. It’s kind of scary,” says Cox, a rotund center from Yazoo City.
In describing his knee Jones paints a picture of childhood animation, not SEC basketball.
“When I run, I still run like a little deer, a new deer. I just can’t jump off it,” said Jones, a 6-foot-7 leaper from Pascagoula.
Jumping may not be the best thing for Jones right now according to his healing time frame. If everything continues on course he’ll be cleared for competition – a small first helping – in late August.
Like Cox, it’s the first major injury for Jones.
Ole Miss trainer Clarke Holter has been a source of encouragement, but Jones sounds somewhat skeptical as August approaches.
“I’m scared it might give out again,” Jones said. “Clarke tells me he’s not going to let me do nothing I can’t do. It’s still an ACL, so I’m a little nervous about it.”
Cox’s next big calendar milestone is in less than a week. He’ll have a CT scan on Wednesday.
“Once I get past next Wednesday and that CT scan shows the bone is completely healed … that will be like a fresh relief. If it’s broken again, there’s got to be something else wrong,” Cox said. “I’m going to hit it like I hit it before I got hurt. I’m just going to get out there with it.”
Cox appeared in seven games last year, 69 for his career. After two seasons he had career averages of 2.5 points, 2.4 rebounds and 11.2 minutes.
Jones only appeared in 20 games but that was enough for him to finish second on the team with 32 blocked shots. He averaged 3.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 16.9 minutes.
“We play like a tandem,” Cox said. “We were second team together. We got used to playing with each other, so when we got in the game it was easy.”