Piedmont's Hunter Jones commits to Charlotte
Hunter Jones has accomplished more in the last two months than many athletes do in a career.
The rising senior shortstop at Piedmont High played a vital role in the Panthers' 2A state championship last spring.
Last month, Jones won another gold medal by helping Region 6 win the State Games.
On Friday, he made his college choice — accepting a scholarship offer to play for the Charlotte 49ers.
Jones will make it official when he signs in November. He declined a scholarship offers from Western Caroina and Wingate University.
"It's always been a dream," Jones said by cell phone Saturday morning. "I've been going to basketball games (at UNCC) with my Grandma since I was little. It's always been a dream to go there. ... It came up after the State Games. It was a tough decision but that was my pick."
Jones said he gave strong consideration to playing for the Bulldogs.
"I liked Wingate and what coach (Jeff) Gregory has going on down there," he said.
Jones received the scholarship offer from Charlotte after a strong performance on his now future homefield during the State Games (held June 19-23).
"That was huge to get to play there," Jones said. "I got to play in front of all of those coaches. ... I like the coaching staff. I feel good about playing with the guys there. I know some of the guys there. The facilities there are off the chart."
Jones will get a chance to reunite with former Piedmont star Brad Elwood, one of the 49ers' top players. Elwood is a rising junior, so they will have one college season together.
"It was awesome learning from him as a freshman," Jones said. "I learned a lot. I looked up to him and now I get to play with him again and that will be cool."
Jones started all 33 games at shortstop for the Panthers, who finished 30-3 and set a Union County record for wins.
He batted .375 with nine doubles and made two appearances as a pitcher.
Jones expects to see a lot more action on the mound as a senior.
"They want me to be a pitcher and an infielder," Jones said of Piedmont's coaching staff. "They just want me to keep getting stronger. We'll see what I can do but I definitely need to get stronger and faster."
Jones has good bloodlines.
His father, Chuck Jones, was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 1987.
"He has played a big role," Jones said. "He has taken care of me since I started playing at 4. He has always been there for me. He just told me to pray about it. We sat down and looked at the positives and negatives about it. We just went from there."
Jones if the fifth player from Piedmont's 2013 team to accept a baseball scholarship.
Recently graduated third baseman Colby Barnette is a UNC Tar Heels signee, while center fielder Cameron Price will play for Wingate and first baseman Jonathan Caldwell is bound for Limestone.
Rising senior Corey Sikes, the staff ace, committed to Western Carolina before the 2013 season.