Jones has good height at 6-10, but plays much bigger than his size thanks to his pterodactyl-like wingspan. Athletically, he is outstanding, featuring great footspeed, an excellent (and very quick) vertical leap and all the quickness he needs to make his presence felt on the floor.
Being a player who really just started coming into his own in his 2nd season playing Divison I basketball (his senior year), his offense shows sparks, but is still lagging way behind his defensive ability. His mid-range jumper is a part of his game that has come a long way in the past few years, but still needs even more work to become a consistent part of his offensive arsenal. Jones has soft hands and can even put the ball on the floor a little and spot up for a 14-foot jumper featuring a very high release point; generally showing a soft touch in regards to everything surrounding the way he shoots the ball. The most obvious sign of this comes from the fact that he shoots an outstanding 78% from the free throw line, with picture perfect mechanics, plenty of backspin and excellent concentration at the line.
Even though he consistently showed sparks of new raw (but inconsistent) skills throughout his senior year, Jones still gets most of his points either in transition or off offensive rebounds, running the floor extremely well, being very active on the glass, and getting many of his points by setting solid picks and rolling to the basket before finishing athletically around the hoop.
Where he really excelled in college was in terms of rebounding and defense. Jones has a knack for shot-blocking that cant be taught, averaging 3 per game on the season, good for 10th in the country (tied with Tyrus Thomas, just behind Patrick OBryant), doing so while playing in the toughest conference in America night in and night out, the Big East. He gets his blocks both on the ball as well as off, using his length, timing, instincts and excellent leaping ability to intimidate around the hoop; recovering and rotating to get where he needs to be and send back shots at times without even having to jump in the air. Even when he gets beat by his man in the post, he is often quick enough to recover and swat away his shot on his 2nd attempt.
Defensively, he is probably a better team defender than he is man to man (he gets outmuscled frequently in one on one situations), closing out well to trap on the baseline, switching or hedging athletically on the pick on the roll, rotating from the weakside, being active and showing a good all-around attitude in this area.
As a rebounder, Jones shows a lot of potential, but also managed to translate that potential into actual ability in his time in college. He finished 2nd in the Big East in rebounding at 9.8 per game. He shows a good feel for anticipating and timing, boxing out about as well as his skinny frame will allow him to, again being very active in this area and going after everything that is even remotely in his area, on either his first or second bounce. Thanks to his quickness, length, tenacity, leaping ability and soft hands, its not rare at all to see Jones go well out of his area and sky for an impressive looking rebounding.
In terms of attitude, Jones looks very good, as he plays hard, appears to be very coachable, and doesnt give up on plays. He has never gotten much recognition over his basketball career (rightfully so as he wasnt all that good up until his senior year) and therefore doesnt seem to have much of an ego. Despite being a college senior, Jones has as much upside as almost any of the underclassmen big men in this draft still. He was playing JV basketball up until his junior year of high school, and only garnered interest from a Divison II college in Tampa as a senior as well as a couple of local community colleges, due to the fact that he was only 6-7 and 180 pounds at that point. Hes improved considerably not just from year to year, but even from game to game in his teams Big East slate this season, and appears nowhere close to realizing his full potential. Besides, hes only 21 and wont turn 22 until after the draft.
Most of Jones weaknesses revolve around his lack of strength and experience.
His frame is very narrow, particularly in his shoulders and lower body, and there are some concerns about whether hell be able to add enough weight to his frame to allow him to bang with NBA big man in the paint. We must keep in mind that he is a very late bloomer who grew 3 inches after beginning his senior year of high school, and therefore is likely nowhere near fully grown into his body at this point in his basketball career.
Offensively is where Jones will have to improve the most to be able to contribute in the NBA. He really isnt much of a factor in half-court sets, as his footwork and post moves are extremely unpolished, his left-hand is basically non-existent, and he doesnt have enough strength to hold his spot on the block. His ball-handling is certainly not a strength of his, and considering how skinny he is, he could definitely stand to work on his face-up game in terms of becoming more consistent with his mid-range jumper.
Despite being an excellent shot-blocker, Jones will likely struggle initially to play the kind of man to man defense most NBA coaches expect from their big men. He can be extremely foul prone at times, picking up too many cheap fouls around the hoop due to the fact that he has a tendency to bring his arms down on his man while defending as well as stick his hands in all kinds of places that they should not be.
Jones is an excellent rebounder at the college level, but will surely have to add strength to help him fully translate this part of his game over to the NBA. His hands in particular arent strong enough, often having loose balls just grabbed away from them if he cant get two hands on them.
Although the blame for this certainly can not fall on his shoulders considering the fact that his team played with a walk-on point guard and generally mid-major talent in the murderers row known as the Big East, South Florida was absolutely atrocious this season, going a dismal 1-15 in conference and 7-22 overall (all of their wins in OOC came against cupcake types). They had lost 17 straight games going into their last game of year, which they won at home against Georgetown, with Jones having probably the best game of his career (23 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks).
Jones plays for the worst team in the best conference in America, the Big East. He finished 2nd in the conference in both blocked shots (3.0) and rebounds (9.8), and found a way to score 13.2 points a game as well.
Some of his more impressive games include a 7 point, 17 rebound, 5 assist, 5 block performance against Villanova, a 12 point, 12 rebound, 6 block effort against UConn, and scoring 23 points (9-10 FG) with 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in a game against Georgetown.
As a junior Jones started in most of his teams games next to a beast of a college player in Terrence Leather and a terrific PG in Brian Swift, averaging just 6.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks on the year, in 26 minutes per game. He only shot 55% from the free throw line, but improved to 77.8% the next year as a senior.
Jones played his first two years of college at Daytona Beach Community College, and averaged only 11 points and 8 rebounds in his final season there. The only other school that had interest in him coming out of high school was the University of Tampa, a Division II college. He was just 6-7 and 180 pounds as a high school senior, which means he has added 3 inches and 50 pounds to his frame in the past 4 years.
After an excellent showing at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, which led to him being named to DraftExpress All-Tournament First Team (see links: Portsmouth Recap), Jones has put himself in an excellent position to get drafted. He will attend the Orlando pre-draft camp in June and try to improve his stock even further, or at least try not to regress on the ground hes gained so far.
As a 6-10 super long and athletic big man with nice touch, good basketball instincts and lots of upside, he will get plenty of looks regardless in the 2nd round. With a good showing in Orlando, he could potentially move himself into the 1st round picture.
No one else is really talking about him publicly as even being a draft prospect at this point, but that has more to do with the school he played for and the fact that only NBA scouts and DraftExpress were present at Portsmouth.
Bio photo courtesy of Kyle Jefferies/USFNation.com