After serving as the architect of one of the most celebrated plays in college basketball this season, Butler University sophomore Roosevelt Jones was overwhelmed by the immediate impact.
The former O'Fallon High School star picked off an inbounds pass with 3.5 seconds remaining Jan. 19 and sank a running shot to beat then eighth-ranked Gonzaga.
Jones stole a pass from Gonzaga's David Stockton, then headed upcourt quickly before dropping in the game-winner in a nationally televised 64-63 victory.
"It was crazy," said Jones, who had 20 points, five rebounds and four assists on that memorable night. "When I checked my phone after the game, I had over 100 text messages.
"I went out to eat after the game and that probably wasn't a smart idea, because everybody was congratulating me. When I got back home, I had notes all over my door."
The least-surprised person at Butler's historic Hinkle Fieldhouse that night was Bulldogs coach Brad Stevens.
"The most important thing in that play is not the physical play or the physical shot, it was the savvy to put yourself in the right position," Stevens said. "There's only a handful of guys that could have made that play and he did it -- because he's got that kind of savvy."
Jones expects to have close to 100 family and friends on hand Thursday when ninth-ranked Butler (17-3) visits St. Louis University (14-5) for an 8 p.m. Atlantic 10 Conference game.
The 6-foot-4 sophomore forward is averaging 10.4 points per game and a team-leading 5.5 rebounds, along with 3.6 assists per game. The Bulldogs own wins over three top-10 teams this season, including then-No. 1 state rival Indiana.
"I have 40 people so far that I actually have tickets for, but I think there might be over 100 people at the game," Jones said. "It's fun coming back home and fun getting to play where I'm from. All my family and friends will be there."
Jones didn't immediately realize the enormity of his game-winning play against Gonzaga, but it didn't take long.
The game was broadcast on ESPN and that highlight --which included colorful broadcaster Dick Vitale shouting "It's unbelievable! I can't believe it! Are you serious?" -- was also ESPN's Play of the Day, shown repeatedly over hours and hours of programming.
"It was really nuts," Jones said. "When the ball fell into my hands, I couldn't believe it happened. I took a quick glance at the clock and tried to make the play. I didn't know until later on that I only got the shot of with .1 second left. so that made it even more crazy."
"For me personally, that's the best moment of my life."
Jones probably hasn't forgotten his last game at Chaifetz Arena, playing for O'Fallon against former St. Louis Eagles AAU teammate and Chaminade star Bradley Beal. Beal scored 44 points in an 82-77 victory at the 2011 Coaches vs. Cancer Shootout.
Beal did things like that to plenty of teams that season, before spending one year at the University of Florida then becoming the third overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft by the Washington Wizards.
It was the one high school game that Stevens got to see Jones play in person.
"I tell him all the time, I recruited you to be a stopper and you only gave up 50," joked Stevens, who also pointed out that Jones had 24 points that night. "That whole night was memorable, but I still think he's one of the best defenders in college basketball."
Stevens shows that faith every night by typically sticking the versatile Jones on the opponents' leading scorer.
"He can play five positions here, there's no doubt," Stevens said. "His strength give him an opportunity to play guys that are taller and his understanding of the game and lateral quickness gives him an opportunity to play against small guards."
How rare is it to coach a player like Jones?
"I don't recruit many guys that can guard four positions in high school, let alone four or five positions in college," Stevens said. "Not only can he guard five positions, he can play them, too."
Jones, a two-time Belleville News-Democrat Player of the Year, started 31 of 36 games for Butler as a freshman last season and led the team in rebounding.
"When I played my first college basketball game, the speed of the game was so fast," Jones said. "I went up and down the court like two times and was already out of breath. I finally got the hang of it pretty quickly."
He played a solid role in Butler's 82-71 upset of North Carolina on Nov. 20 at the Maui Invitational. Jones also scored a season-high 24 points and hit 10 of 15 shots Jan. 2 in a 70-57 win at Penn.
Metro-east basketball fans who watched Jones play for O'Fallon may recall how easily he could fill up so many spots on the score sheet.
And while Jones has never been a pure shooter, his across-the-board contributions to his team can never be overlooked.
"He's a very creative scorer," Stevens said. "Because he doesn't shoot jump shots and because his game is untraditional, people underestimate him -- because he can score.
"He can score with floaters left and right, he gets to the foul line and he makes his free throws. He's really a creative scorer because of his understanding of the game."
Bringing the intensity
Asked to target the favorite area of Jones' game outside of defense, Stevens did not hesitate.
"He has been incredibly reliable and consistent in his competitive performance every single game that he's played here at Butler," Stevens said. "You can't always say that about everyone. But when the lights go on and the score's being kept, he's as competitive as anybody I've ever coached."
Jones' improbable shot that beat Gonzaga now takes its rightful place alongside so many others at Hinkle Fieldhouse, the former home of the Indiana state high school tournament and the nation's sixth-oldest college basketball arena still in use.
The most memorable may be the shot Bobby Plump hit to give Milan High the 1954 state championship, a shot that helped spawn the famous basketball movie "Hoosiers."
"It's a great experience every time we play a home game," Jones said. "Every time people come there, they always want to take pictures because of the 'Hoosiers' movie, so that's cool. It's got great history to it."
And thanks to Jones, the venerable arena has a little more.