Texas guard Andrew Jones diagnosed with leukemia

It was about the time 2017 was turning into 2018 that it became apparent something was wrong with promising Texas sophomore guard Andrew Jones as he was able to play a combined 20 minutes in two games at the start of the Big 12 Conference schedule.

“He’s just not been feeling like himself,” Longhorns coach Shaka Smart told reporters Jan. 4. “He’s just not had the stamina and energy that he normally has, and it’s not for lack of trying.”

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That led UT having Jones undergo a variety of tests to determine the nature of his illness. Wednesday, it was announced he has been diagnosed with leukemia.

His family released a statement through UT that said Jones has begun being treated for the disease and, “We hope everyone will keep him in your thoughts and prayers.” Smart said in the school’s release, “We love Andrew and will do everything we can to support his family and help him get back to health.”

Jones is a 6-4 sophomore from Irving, Tex., and was chosen to play in the 2016 McDonald’s All-American Game. He was averaging 13.5 points before missing Saturday’s loss at Baylor. He’d missed four games earlier in the season, but those were the result of a wrist injury that occurred in early December.

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In an interview with the Austin American-Statesman for a feature published in advance of his arrival at Texas, he described himself as obsessed with numbers and told of the challenges of growing up with a father who’d been paralyzed in 2007 as the result of an automobile accident.

“He took care of me and did a lot of things for me that most kids his age probably wouldn’t have to do,” David Jones told the paper. “A lot of kids would rebel, and he really took the challenge – to make sure if I need something, to make sure it’s done.”

Wednesday, Jones took to Twitter to share his perspective, following his diagnosis.

This is not the sort of thing the world of high-profile college sports deals with often. One example was former Tennessee star Chris Lofton, a Vols superstar through three seasons who was named SEC player of the year after averaging 20.8 points as a junior in 2006-07. When his effectiveness plunged his senior year, with his shooting percentages down and his scoring average falling to 15.5 points, viewers were puzzled; he didn’t reveal until two months after his senior season that he’d been diagnosed with testicular cancer following his junior year. Lofton has played professionally overseas since, and in 2016 was named MVP of the French Cup final.

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After rushing for 1,765 yards and earning ACC player of the year honors in 2014, running back James Conner missed the 2015 at Pitt to have treatment for Hodgkins lymphoma. He returned a year later to play with the Panthers and is now with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte promised the university “will do everything in our power to provide all of the resources we can to assist Andrew and his family.”

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