Kevin Jones Q + A
All-Big East forward on the loss to UK, NBA Draft.
by Cub Buenning
West Virginia University’s Kevin Jones is a unique talent. At 6-8 and 260 pounds, he is a formidable force who most would consider best suited to be an NBA power forward. With a 7-4 wingspan, the junior is a disruptive defensive player who can guard four positions on the court.
But, keep in mind, this Mount Vernon (NY) product is light on his feet like a tap dancer, runs like a gazelle and has an affinity for launching long-range shots. So it stands to reason that as his junior season in Morgantown — where he backed up his rep as being one of the nation’s best offensive rebounders — came to a close, the NBA discussion would immediately start up for the All-Big East performer.
While the initial feedback seems positive, Jones is taking it slowly. It seems that Jones has a lot to gain from the individual workouts where he will be able to display his one-on-one skills, ball handling and ability to get his own shots, things that were rarely on display in Head Coach Bob Huggins’ offensive scheme.
In between classes, breaths and in the midst of the season coming to a close (in the Mountaineers’ third-round NCAA Tournament defeat to Kentucky), Jones took a second to give SLAMonline some early thoughts on what his basketball future might hold.
SLAM: Let’s get right to last weekend in Tampa. You all came out strong with a convincing win over Clemson. You had your prototypical “Kev Jones game,” killing it on the offensive glass and knocking down big threes. You had to be feeling good on Thursday night?
Kevin Jones: That was a big win because we started off kind of slow. But we were able to get into the flow in the second half and really just take over the game.
SLAM: Against Kentucky, you basically had a similar type of performance; it just didn’t seem that you had as many opportunities on the offensive end of the court. How do you characterize that loss to Kentucky?
KJ: For the first half, we controlled that game with our offense, passing it around and really making them work. But in the second half, we kind of got away from that; we were taking a lot of unforced shots and making unforced turnovers. We got away from the game plan which got us the lead in the first half.
SLAM: The season is now over, so the discussion about pro prospects starts immediately. What are you guys hearing about how the NBA community views Kevin Jones?
KJ: We are hearing a lot of good things that it is pretty likely that I will be picked in the first round. It’s not a definite thing that I am coming out, it’s just the experience of testing the waters and seeing what people have to say and seeing how general managers and scouts evaluate my game. We are taking this process one step at a time and seeing what happens from then.
SLAM: Have you gotten to the “agent step,” yet or just testing the waters?
KJ: As of right now, we are just talking about the pros and cons of what to expect if I enter the Draft or if I stay in school. We just want to take the best opportunity for me. Either way it won’t be bad, we just need to find the best solution.
SLAM: What will be the most important deciding factor on your decision from now until the deadline to declare?
KJ: I think it will be whether I am really ready to play and make an immediate impact in the NBA. Nobody wants to go sit on the bench, so I just want to make sure that if I do enter the Draft that I will have an immediate impact.
SLAM: You are a unique player, where do you guys see yourself playing on the next level, down low on the block or out on the wing?
KJ: I am not the prototypical power forward in the NBA, but I can stretch the defense and shoot the ball. But, I want to put the ball on the floor and show everyone my wing skills, I can move and transition myself out to the small forward position.
SLAM: If you do declare, what will be your training and preparation plans be going forward?
KJ: Just to work as hard as I can on which aspect of my game that we think needs improvement. Just staying on the same workout plan that we have been doing because it’s been successful so far. And just refining my game so that I am not perceived as a one-dimensional player, like just a shooter or a rebounder. I would like to mature my game a little bit more.
SLAM: What part of your game is going to be your focus in those workouts?
KJ: I think it would be improving my ability to put the ball on the floor. I mean, I can put it on the floor, but in the system that Coach (Bob) Huggins runs, it’s a lot of pass-and-score and not a lot of one-on-one action, which is lot more a part of the NBA game. I want to work a lot more on my athleticism and creating my own shot. Once I prove to people that I can do that, then I will become a better talent overall.