SSU’s Onu, Jones named NAIA All-Americans




PORTSMOUTH — Fresh off a season full of firsts, E.J. Onu and James Jones have already added to that — just two days after winning the program’s first-ever NAIA National Championship.

Onu — the greatest four-year player in the history of the Shawnee State men’s basketball program — became the first two-time NAIA All-American in program history by earning first-team All-American honors, while Jones received his first national All-American status in his college career by earning second-team All-American accolades, as announced by national officials on Thursday afternoon.

With their NAIA All-American statuses, the duo allowed the Bears to post two NAIA All-Americans for the second season in a row.

That also marks a first in program history.

E.J. Onu

Capping off a splendid Shawnee State tenure with a 31-2 record and an NAIA National Championship, Onu posted marks that completely rewrote the individual and team recordbooks at SSU in the process.

Finishing with averages of 12.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.2 blocks for his career on 52.8-percent shooting from the field, Onu greatly exceeded all of those averages during the 2020-21 season on career-best efficiency.

For his senior season, Onu averaged 16.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.5 blocks while shooting 57.3-percent from the floor and a strong 40-percent mark from three-point range.

He scored in double figures in each of Shawnee State’s first 30 games, and 31 of the team’s 33 affairs in all.

The senior from Cleveland was the only player on the roster to play and start in all 33 games during the 2020-21 season, and — not surprisingly — led the nation in blocks per game and total blocks (150).

The 6-11 center led Shawnee State in the following categories:

Total blocks

Blocks per game

Total rebounds (266)

Rebounds per game

Three-pointers made (52)

Three-pointers attempted (130)

Three-point field-goal percentage

From a career standpoint, Onu ranks first all-time in program history in blocks (529) and blocks per game — and third all-time in points (1,578) and rebounds (866).

He becomes the first first-team NAIA All-American since his head coach, DeLano Thomas, accomplished the feat during the 2003-04 season.

Only Onu, Thomas and Andre Horton (2001-02) have accomplished the milestone in program history.

James Jones

Wrapping up one of the greatest individual scoring campaigns in school history, Jones proved himself as a guy who could be relied upon for a bucket at any point in time.

For the season, Jones posted a year to remember, averaging 20 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game on outstanding efficiency himself, as his 47.2-percent shooting would suggest.

He, like Onu, also scored in double figures in 30 games over the course of the season — including each of Shawnee State’s eight postseason affairs.

Despite a season slightly shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jones still finished fourth in program history in total scoring in a single season — with 620 tallies — while his 20 points per game made the senior from Chicago just the second player in program history to average 20 points per game.

Only Horton, with his 24.1 points per bout during the 2001-02 campaign, averaged more.

In addition to his outstanding scoring load, Jones proved to be the team’s best facilitator.

His 4.8 assists per contest and 150 total assists are both fifth in program history over a single season.

To put his impressive passing totals into perspective, Jones — in just one season at Shawnee State — is already ranked 18th in program history in career assists.

The 6-4 wing led Shawnee State in the following categories:

Points scored

Points per game


Assists per game

Free throws made (120)

Free throws attempted (150)

Free-throw percentage (80-percent)

Field goals made (232)

Field goals attempted (492)

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