Typically any injury to a basketball player's shooting arm — be it a hand, wrist, or even shoulder — is problematic. Even if the injury in question is relatively minor, it can wreck havoc with the finite symmetry of a shooting stroke.

Eleanor Jones, a freshman from Great Britain beginning her first season with the Colorado Buffaloes women's basketball team, has no such issue. If Jones suffers that sort of injury, she simply starts shooting with her other hand.

Yes, Jones is ambidextrous. And we're not talking about layups here. Jones is equally adept at taking jump shots or free throws with either arm, a mark of versatility that could be a big part of first-year coach JR Payne's rebuilding project with the CU program.

"She had an injury to her right arm about six months ago and so she just switched. Now she's playing left-handed," Payne said. "I've never even heard of that. She's just extremely versatile and athletic, but that's a new one. I've never seen that before."

Older teammates on Jones' club team, the Leicester Riders, first piqued Jones' interest in playing college basketball in America, but Jones had never heard of the University of Colorado before getting contacted by former coach Linda Lappe and her staff.

Lappe's dismissal following last year's 7-23 campaign is the sort of move that typically scuttles such overseas recruiting projects. However, as fate would have it Payne and her staff also were recruiting Jones while they still were at Santa Clara. When Payne moved to CU the pieces started falling in place for Jones, who has yet to see any part of the United States beyond Boulder.


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"Boulder is the only place I've been (in America). It was my first visit and my only visit," Jones said. "The culture is different and people are different attitude, but I like it. I've adapted quite well.

"It's a lot higher level (of basketball). But it's something that I can strive towards."

So far Jones has been limited in her participation in preseason workouts due to some nagging injuries, but Payne is confident Jones will be in the mix by the time the Buffs tip off the season on Nov. 11 at Northern Colorado.

Payne raves about Jones' versatility — her versatile skill-set, that is, and not just her ability to knock down shots with either hand. And Jones, a native of Scotland, already has endured a little of what it's like to leave home when she joined her England-based club team two years ago. This commute was just a little longer.

"When she's healthy, she's awesome," Payne said. "She's our prototypical kind of kid. She's really long. She's lanky. She runs like a deer. She can jump. She can rebound outside of her area. She's everything we'd want out of a post player.

"Eleanor is someone that's already been away from home. For another player that's never been away from home, leaving the country would be a huge adjustment. For her I don't think it will be that big an adjustment."

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07