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An Ode to Roosevelt Jones

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The senior forward meant plenty to Butler over the last five seasons.

William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday night, Butler lost to Virginia in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. After the buzzer sounded in Raleigh, North Carolina, Roosevelt Jones' career wrapped in unlikable fashion. Yet, the senior proved his worth in a Bulldogs' uniform and formed into one of the Big East's most complete players.

A season after Butler lost in its second straight appearance in the national championship game, Jones began his stint in Indianapolis. In 2011, the Bulldogs still sat in the Horizon League and lost talented players like Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard. Hence, head coach Brad Stevens needed freshmen, like Jones, to step into the rotation immediately.

The 6-foot-4 forward responded, playing just under 28 minutes and averaging 7.8 points per game. The Bulldogs put together a solid campaign at 22-14 but only qualified for the College Basketball Invitational (CBI), losing to Pittsburgh in the semifinals.

In the following season, Butler shifted over to the Atlantic 10, making the case that Stevens grasped a program worth more than a mid-major label. Jones jumped into larger role, as well, stepping onto the floor a tick under 31 minutes per game, as well as producing 10.1 points per contest. The sophomore even hit a game-winning shot against Gonzaga, displaying his knack for the clutch against elite competition.

At the end of the regular season, Jones was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team. While he improved offensively, his strides on the other end of the floor allowed the program to recognize that Jones hadn't come close to touching his ceiling.

Led by redshirt senior Rotnei Clarke, Butler battled its way back into the Big Dance, defeating Bucknell in the second round before losing to Marquette in the third round. Jones and company couldn't hang their heads, though, as the Golden Eagles advanced all the way to the Elite 8.

Following the 2012-13 campaign, Stevens took his resume to Boston, replacing Doc Rivers as the next head coach of the Celtics. His departure left a void at Butler, though, moving to the realigned Big East without a man to roam the sidelines. Although the team appointed assistant Brandon Miller as its lead dog, the transition became even tougher.

During Butler's trip to Australia over the summer, Jones suffered torn ligaments in his wrist, ending his junior season prematurely. Miller's bunch struggled without their leader, finishing ninth in the conference.

When Jones returned for the 2014-15 season, the junior brought his grit to the hardwood, posting 12.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Those stats might not jump out to the common eye, but he continued to polish up his game. Chris Holtmann, who left Gardner-Webb prior to the 2013-14 campaign to become an assistant at Butler, served as a catalyst in his development.

Before Jones' junior campaign began, Holtmann took over as the interim head coach as Miller left due to a medical issue. At the start of conference play, the program tore the tag off and officially handed him the job. Hotlmann exceeded expectations with the Bulldogs placing second in the Big East.

That season, Jones finished second on the team in both free-throw attempts and rebounds. Thus, the undersized forward still managed to use his physicality in the lane and on the glass against much larger specimens. However, he and sharpshooter Kellen Dunham could only carry the Bulldogs into the Round of 32, falling to Notre Dame in an overtime thriller. Playing through a knee injury, Jones scored a team-high 23 points.

During his last hurrah, Jones averaged a career-best in points (13.7), rebounds (6.7) and assists (4.8). Unsurprisingly, the forward led the Bulldogs in dimes. The 225-pound beast demonstrated ball handling skills unlike many others with a similar frame.

Additionally, Jones represented a triple-double threat every game, and even tallied one, putting up 10 points, 10 dimes and 14 rebounds against St. John's on Feb. 6. In the first round of the Big Dance against Texas Tech, even though Jones failed to make much of a dent in the points category, he posted eight rebounds and six assists in the 71-61 win.

Most importantly, Jones never attempted to play outside of his comfort zone throughout his entire career. In his four seasons, he attempted two three-pointers. Let that sink in.

Considering Jones weighs more than many prospects with an identical height, playing in the NBA will be difficult, especially since the game speeds up at the next level. Nonetheless, whether Jones plays in the league, overseas or takes a different career path, fans will always remember him for his dedication to becoming a well-oiled machine.