SALT LAKE CITY — The college basketball season didn’t end the way anyone wanted it to, with all games being canceled March 12 for all schools around the country for the rest of the season because of the COVID-19 crisis.

For Utah freshman Rylan Jones, the end of his season had come two weeks earlier in a game at Cal when he suffered a concussion that kept him sidelined for nearly a month. He was finally cleared to play late last month and has started working out again, albeit under the limited resources available for athletes. 

Jones, a two-time Deseret News Mr. Basketball at Olympus High, was a starter for the Utes throughout his freshman season and ended up leading the team in assists (4.5 apg) and free throw percentage (86.3%) and was the third-leading scorer on the team at 9.6 ppg. He was also second on the team in minutes played behind Timmy Allen with 31.5 minutes per game.

The 6-foot-1 guard was snakebit with several injuries during the season and had to miss the final two games against Colorado and Oregon State, the latter in the Pac-12 Tournament, sitting at the end of the bench in his street clothes.

His season ended on the last day of February in the early minutes of the Cal game when he got knocked around like a pinball in a pinball machine under the Cal basket, getting hit three times, the last when teammate Branden Carlson inadvertently fell on him. He lay on the floor for several minutes before slowly being helped to the locker room. He didn’t know it at the time, but it would be his last action of the season.

“I just knew somebody shot it and the next thing I knew I was looking up at the ceiling of Haas Pavilion,” Jones said. “I wasn’t really sure what had happened. I was just kind of there.”

It all began when he collided with Cal’s 220-pound guard Matt Bradley, then fell backward into teammate’s Mikael Jantunen’s leg before the 7-foot Carlson landed on him, bouncing Jones’ head into the floor. 

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Jones called it a “trifecta” of being hit three times and said at the time he couldn’t remember what happened as he sat on the bench in the second half with headphones covering his ears because he was so “noise-sensitive.”

“I just knew I got hit,” he said. “When I got home a couple of days later I saw what happened. Bradley hit me with his shoulder and I kind of started falling backwards and hit one of my teammate’s knees in the back of my head when he was jumping. I ended up on the floor and got landed on in another way. It was a lot of bad luck.”

Jones said he didn’t realize the severity of the injury at the time.

 “I kind of guessed I had a concussion, but later on in the week I realized ‘yeah, this is really serious,’” he said.

For Jones it was the last in a series of injuries he suffered during his initial season at the U.

“I’ve never really had a lot of injuries before, but I had a few this year,” he said.

“A few” is putting it mildly.

Let’s see, he started out with a sprained ankle in the preseason that kept him out of practice for a week. After the season started, he sprained his other ankle, which slowed him for several practices and games.

Then in mid-December, he was sidelined with an injury to his ribs that kept him out of the Weber State game and he played several games with sore ribs.

Late in the year, in a game against USC, he went down with a leg injury that at first was feared to be a serious knee injury, but turned out to be shin bruise and he suited up the following week against Stanford. Then three days later came the head injury at Cal. 

The ankle injuries bothered him for most of the season, he revealed.

“Towards the end of the year they got better,” he said. “They haven’t really felt good until about now.”

Like other college athletes, Jones isn’t allowed to work out at his university where all the athletic facilities are closed and he can’t work out with teammates. So he is “stuck at home,” where fortunately he has a basketball hoop in his backyard and can lift weights and exercise in his basement.

“That’s how I’m spending a lot of time,” he said. “I just work out about twice a day because I have nothing else to do. I lift and do body workouts with the supplies I have in my house right now.”

Otherwise, he hasn’t done much but play one round of golf and “watched more TV than I usually have.”

Assuming there is a basketball season later this year, Jones believes the Utes will be much-improved with everybody returning and some top-notch recruits joining the program.

“I think we’ll be good, we’ve got a lot of pieces coming back and some newcomers coming in so we’re going to be super-talented and have more experience,” he said. “We didn’t have much experience this year and now we’re going to have everyone coming back and some really talented players coming in. I’m really excited to start working with my teammates when we’re allowed to.”

Jones said he’s pretty good friends with Caleb Lohner as well as Ian Martinez, two of the three incoming freshmen who will join the team in the fall along with Pelle Larsson of Sweden.

The Utes would normally be allowed to start working out during the summer semester, but like everything else in the world, that is on hold for now.