Breaking ground and taking flight

Senior point guard Cyndie Jones got her start in basketball at the age of 11 and it is also her favorite number as she wears it as her uniform number for evidence.

“I feel like I wouldn’t know what to do if I didn’t have basketball,” Jones said.

At 5-foot-7-inches, Jones is often described as “fast and energetic.”

Hailing from Riverside, California, and coming from a family of brothers who played basketball – who Jones’ cites as her main inspirations – Jones’ life is all about basketball.

“It’s like everything to me. It’s pretty up there,” said Jones as her face lit up. “I say for myself, it’s God, family and basketball – in that order.”

Only a year after transferring to Azusa Pacific from Cal Poly Pomona, Jones has already broken ground as the women’s basketball star point guard this season.

She describes APU as a “much better fit” in almost every way: from coaching, to a drama-free zone with teammates, and the “family-feel” and God-filled atmosphere.

“When I was at Cal Poly it felt more like they only cared about the wins, instead of the girls personally…[Here] the coach and the girls actually care about each other,” Jones said. “It’s just more of a comfortable feel and I wanted to get closer to God.”

Head Coach TJ Hardeman said Jones has supported the family and God-first stance of the team from day one.

“We were just happy that she could come and contribute and say, ‘Hey, I wanna be a part of the program. I’m gonna have fun playing. I’m gonna get along with everybody,”’ TJ Hardeman said.

Coach Hardeman also expressed that Jones wasn’t a point-guard last year but she was assigned to be one this season, “[Cydnie said] ‘If you guys need me, I’ll do whatever you need,’ that attitude has been what she’s been like the whole time,” explained coach Hardeman. “Watch out for her, she’s going fast, she’s gonna steal the ball. She’s gonna assist…She makes us go.”

It was also Coach Hardeman who dubbed Jones as “Energetic, enthusiastic and fast”. She has a contagious, infectious enthusiasm, she has fun playing and she makes it fun to play with her.

Jones’ teammates and friends all seem to be in unison with that description.

“She’s the fastest athletic girl I’ve ever met,” said teammate and senior forward Miriam Zabinsky.

Zabinsky is also Jones’ roommate, and they are also both Sociology majors.

“We go shopping together, we watch movies together, Netflix, pretty much everything. We have classes together…we’re pretty much always together just hanging out,” Zabinsky explained.

On the court, Zabinsky describes Jones as “a great teammate and really reliable” bringing in a lot of energy and is the one that the team counts on to cheer them up when they’re down.

“I can always count on her to have my back on the court and off the court,” Zabinsky said.

Teammate and senior forward Kelly Hardeman refers to Jones as “so freakin’ fast” as she’s running on the court, stealing passes and hitting the shooter on transitions.

According to Hardeman, Jones brings this energy both on and off the court, from the locker room to when hanging out.

“Off the floor, she’s always just cracking jokes. She’s always dancing…bringing life to our team keeping us laughing and keeping us light even in tough situations,” said Kelly Hardeman.

Apart from shooting hoops, Hardeman and Jones also spend time with the same group of friends, watch Netflix together – stating Prison Break as one of those shows – and talk about boys.

“We couldn’t be anywhere without her. She brings the dynamic that other teams can’t really stop…she’s a big threat,” Kelly Hardeman said.

Besides a harmonious relationship with the team, Jones also chose APU because she wanted to not only grow in her game but in her faith as well.

“Before I got here I wasn’t sure where I stood with my faith and my relationship with Jesus. So, when I got here, it became [stronger] because I was around it more,” Jones said.

Jones says praying before games and team gatherings where the conversation is centered on God has helped her grow closer to God.

“I started reading my Bible and praying a lot more…I think being more around God and even the classroom setting like going to chapel and stuff has brought me closer to him… I even got my family closer to him too,” she expressed.

Jones cherishes her time here at APU saying she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her scholarship to play. She hopes to attain her Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice after graduation while playing basketball overseas at the same time.

“I want to continue to play basketball for as long as possible,” Jones said as she listed Europe, Australia and South America as her top choices to play basketball after graduating from APU.

Jones currently leads the Cougars team in personal fouls (26), assists (32), and is tied for first in steals (16). She is also second on the team in scoring, only behind Kelly Hardeman, with 109 total points and a 13.6 point game average.

The APU women’s basketball team is currently 6-2, and will play their first PacWest Conference game on Thursday, Dec. 3 at Point Loma University.

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