Spectrum Sports Athlete of the Week: Manatee's Aja Jones

By Rishi Barran, Spectrum Sports
Last Updated: Wednesday, August 30, 2017, 9:23 PM EDT

Manatee High School junior Aja Jones has always been a force to be reckoned with on the court.

But until recently, it was a court with a different kind of net.

“I came in in a whole basketball outfit,” Jones said.   “I started to play, and I couldn’t stop.”

Jones, who was first drawn to volleyball when she saw Destiny Hooker dominating for team USA in the Olympics, has been a natural middle since that memorable first day.

“Basketball and volleyball are so much alike as far as you’ve got to get your feet to the ball,” Manatee head coach Anthony Cothron said.  “And she is such an athlete that the transition for her is not difficult at all.”

“Just the technique is what I had to learn,” Jones said.

She’s been quite the student- ascending to a key role on one of the best teams in the state- and earning division one scholarship offers.

It’s probably no surprise given her bloodlines.

Aja’s brother, Mike Junior, is a four-star commit to Clemson on the football field, while her dad, Mike, played nine years in the NFL.

“I remember when I was younger- my dad waking us up at 5 a.m. like, ‘let’s go hit the gym,’” Jones said.  “And it was that intensity all the time.  But we loved it.”

That commitment has carried over into Aja’s volleyball career.

She transferred to Manatee from Lakewood Ranch this season to join a Hurricanes’ team that’s reached three straight final fours.

This year, it’s championship or bust.

“It’s all we talk about,” Jones said.  “We’re ready to take it.  We’re ready to get these big rings.”

Rings look good with any outfit.