Last week we profiled the curious case of Seton Hall power forward, Herb Pope. Since our podcast, Pope led the Pirates to two more conference victories against Providence and DePaul, averaging a double-double (11pts/11rbs) in the process.
This week Chas and I debate another Big East senior on the Six Overtimes Podcast: West Virginia power forward, Kevin Jones.
At 6-8, 250, Jones has the versatility to play both forward spots and spot center for Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers. Jones is the do-everything, floor leader, for the Mountaineers, averaging 37.2 mins. a game. Because he and guard Truck Bryant are the only seniors on a team that features seven freshman, Jones is the de facto coach on the court. Watching him play, Jones is always in the right position and routinely alerts his young teammates when their spacing is off or when they are not in the right spot on the floor for a particular play. Huggins simply can’t afford to have Jones on the bench. Against their last three ranked opponents, Jones is averaging 40 minutes a contest.
Like Herb Pope, Jones is an undersized power forward by NBA standards. As clichéd as it sounds, Jones simply has a nose for the ball. He is consistently double teamed, but still fights for positioning in the paint or for an entry pass in the post. If he is double teamed in the post, Jones has the awareness and experience to find the open man.
Jones is known as a below the rim player — perfectly exemplified by this hilarious YouTube clip. (Note that he did make the bucket on his second try). Despite his lack of vertical, Jones currently leads the Big East in offensive rebounds (78), total rebounding (195), and per game average (11.5) — a four rebounds a game jump from his junior season average.
Jones takes the right shots, from the right length at the right time. How else can you explain shooting 54% from the field when the year before he shot 44%? Despite a long and awkward looking jumper, Jones has enough touch to stretch the defense, reaching out to the college three point line.
He’s made a huge leap statistically this season in almost every offensive category. Check out his per-40 comparison courtesy of draftexpress.com:
per-40 comparison (junior to senior year):
points: 15 to 23
rebounds: 8.5 to 13
2 point%: 50 to 67
FT% 60 to 70
His signature game of the season was a December 23 contest against Baylor and potential top five pick, PF Perry Jones. Baylor won the game in overtime, but Kevin Jones bodied up and abused P.Jones throughout the game. Kevin finished the game with 28pts., and 17 boards, while holding his opponent to a miniscule four points. One game doesn’t make a player, but NBA scouts were all over that game watching Perry Jones. Kevin had to make a solid impression.
Last week, Jones carried the Mountaineers to an “upset” victory over #9 Georgetown, playing 39 mins while going 8-12 from the field for 22 points. He also cleaned up the glass with 16 boards.
Watching Kevin Jones play, I notice how easily he gets to his spots on the floor. Jones uses his 250 pound frame to create space. He won’t out run you or out jump you, but he’ll get in the right position for rebounds, using his big ass. Yes, I said Kevin Jones has a big ass. He understands his body and uses it to his advantage.
He won’t be the most athletic on the floor — Jones doesn’t run, he lumbers up and down the court. But in my opinion, he has worked his way into the conversation for a late first-round pick.
NBA similarities: Josh Smith sans the athleticism, with a Luol Deng-ish body. Jones is heavier/less athletic than these guys. He’s kind of hard to place at 6-8, 250/260. He will either be told to slim down or bulk up as he goes potential draft camps. He looks as though he’s playing with too much weight, a la Boris Diaw.
I think a young team in need of a makeover (Wizards, Nets, Raptors) would place a higher value on a 4-year player like Jones, who seems to be peaking at the right time. In my opinion, Jones will be a late first/early second round pick thanks to a stellar senior campaign that has him in the conversation for Big East player of the year. If he can carry the Mountaineers on his back and deep into the NCAA tournament, he may gain more exposure which could help his stock.