Daniel Jones was his basketball teammate and friend as far back as third grade, and so Anthony Bilas tells why the draft-night jeers from Giants fans will one day be turned to cheers.
“I think a lot of it has to do with name recognition. Daniel Jones … it’s a pretty generic name. I think they just don’t know him,” Bilas told The Post.
“He’s an absolute warrior.
“He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met. One of the hardest workers I’ve ever met. No matter what happens to him, he’s gonna bring 100 percent all the time. He’s someone that you want to be on your team, whether it’s in a backup role where he might start out, or a starter. He’s not gonna have off-the-field issues.
“Every one of his teammates is gonna love him.
“And he’s gonna give you 100 percent effort. And from a rookie, I think that’s really all you can ask for. Because there’s gonna be a learning curve, there’s gonna be struggles, there are gonna be ups and downs, but he’s gonna keep bouncing back after every hit, after every bad throw … he’s gonna get back up, and then, after the good throws, he’s gonna stay humble and move on to the next one.”
Anthony Bilas, Wake Forest senior shooting guard this past season, is the son of ESPN’s Jay Bilas, and father and son naturally know Jones more as a basketball player.
“He’s a we-first guy, not a me-first guy,” Jay Bilas told The Post.
Bilas coached his son and Jones, who played basketball together at Charlotte Latin High School, on his AAU Charlotte Reign team for two summers.
“He’s very even-keel … he’s unflappable,” Jay Bilas said. “He’s not incredibly demonstrative, but he’s really competitive. So you’re not gonna be able to read his emotions from everything he does, but he can really compete. And he’s tough as nails. He can take a beating and he keeps coming back and back.”
Jay Bilas told how Jones showed up unexpectedly at his summer skills camp after breaking his hand.
“He played with a cast on his right hand at my basketball camp,” he said. “He was scheduled to come play, and I figured, ‘OK, well he’s not gonna be there,’ so we’d have an extra spot out of the 100 spots open.
“And he played, and he was the best player in the camp.”
Jones had wrist surgery after his junior year of high school.
“I actually broke my wrist probably January that year in basketball, didn’t realize it was broken until May,” Jones said. “I had a cast on it, had an opportunity to go to Mr. Bilas’ camp. I had to play that week left-handed, so I had to adjust my game a little bit, but it was fun.”
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Jones lets his actions speak louder than his words.
“He’s a silent killer,” Anthony Bilas said. “He never talked trash, he never like boasted at all. … He was awesome to play with. He was a great teammate. He was always fun to be around, he’s never negative, he’s always a positive guy on the court no matter what was happening.”
The Bilases believe he could have played big-time college basketball.
“He was a good enough player that he could have played basketball at Duke,” Jay Bilas said.
I told that to Anthony Bilas.
“If he decided to walk on or something like that when he got there, Coach K would give it a consideration,” he said. “I think he’d have a shot.”
I told Jones what Jay Bilas had said about him.
“I don’t know. But if Jay Bilas says it, you gotta put some weight in that,” Jones said, laughing.
New York won’t scare Daniel Jones.
“I know he handled the Duke microscope really well,” Anthony Bilas said. “But he had people doubting him his whole life. Like when he was a sophomore in high school he was like 6-1, a buck fifty, and nobody thought he had a chance of playing college football. He’s always kinda been an underdog story, but he’s finally kinda proven that he belongs, and he’s gotta prove it on the field now.”
And follow a legend when he gets his chance.