Even though Perry Jones has decided to prolong his college career, we though we’d take a look at his NBA potential. It’s not often that a potential top-5 pick decides to return to school, but unlike Harrison Barnes or Jared Sullinger, the first word that comes to mind with Jones is “potential.” Take a look as we debate the potential of one of the best talents in college basketball.
Boom by Lucas Shaprio
Ignore that his quiet demeanor reminds many of Tracy McGrady. Ignore the fact he did not score one point against Texas Southern when they played Baylor. Ignore that he was suspended for the rest of the season for receiving “benefits.” Ignore it all, because if there’s one player in college basketball that could become an NBA superstar, it is Perry Jones.
The 6-11 and extremely athletic Jones put up 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in his freshman season for the Bears, which many would consider a disappointment. This just proves that Jones has a lot of work to do, which is not necessarily a bad thing. He may just need to mature a little more. He is only 19 years old. At least he has room for improvement and is far from being a polished player, unlike many of this year’s prospects.
In high school, Jones only put up 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in his senior year. Did you expect the kid to put up numbers like Kemba Walker or Jimmer Fredette? After all, Derrick Williams only put up two more points per game than Jones in his freshman year. Jones also did not play with the defending champs (like Kyrie Irving did) or one of the best passers in the nation (like Harrison Barnes did). Instead, he had to deal with LaceDarius Dunn‘s 3.6 turnovers per game.
While it will be up to Jones whether he wants to be a great player or not, it will be key for him to land on the right team. Had he entered the NBA Draft this year, teams like the Washington Wizards, Utah Jazz or Milwaukee Bucks would have been great for him because they all feature a young core that is taking the rebuilding process slowly. Wherever he lands, it will be important for that team to keep the pressure away from Jones, because there’s no doubt that he is a project. Being a project is not always a good thing, but whichever general manager is patient could have a big payoff down the road.
Bust by Kevin Zimmerman
He’s got all the athletic intangibles you could ever ask for; Perry Jones can dribble like a guard, outrun them even, and stands nearly 7-feet tall with his lanky, yet muscular frame.
But skill and a basketball body only go so far. Jones finished his freshman season with so-so numbers indicative of his gentle nature, a soft label that has been accurately given to the top-5 NBA Draft prospect. Unfair expectation has been placed upon Jones, setting him up to be a bust.
The Duncanville, Texas, native averaged 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in college, not what’d you’d expect from a guy who can jump out of the gym and handle the ball as well as any forward in college. The scary numbers, the ones that exemplify his soft nature that will doom him in the NBA – where holding a players’ hand while he waits to develop won’t happen – come in the form of shot attempts and minutes played.
Averaging 34 minutes a game, Jones showed little aggressiveness, and as the season wore on, his scoring numbers dropped. The last time Jones scored more than 16 points in a game came back on Feb. 5. This accompanies every concern about the 6-11, 235-pound freshman – how can a guy so willing to pass the ball to the next guy, ones far less talented than he, be a successful NBA player? And if Jones projects to be anything other than a small forward, his rebounding and block numbers don’t suggest he’ll be an athletic phenom on the defensive end.
That leaves almost everything in question for the 19-year-old. He has no identity thus far in his career, though he has the potential to be great at anything from scorer to defender to passer. Yes, Jones is still young in his development, but his lack of finding himself as a basketball player in any facet during high school and then his freshman year at Baylor writes bust all over him. He’s a soft-natured kid, currently too fragile to handle the intensity of the NBA schedule, and it’ll be tough for him to find enough court-time to develop into the future All-Star people expect.
The best evaluation of Jones comes from Michael Sokolove, who wrote a New York Times Magazine feature on his freshman year.
Of Jones being an all-around nice kid (for example, Jones peer mediated his high school classmates) Sokolove asks “… has a true superstar ever had the soul of a nurse or, for that matter, a peer mediator?” The answer to that is a resounding, “no.”
What do you think? What will Perry Jones do at the next level?
Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucashapiro.
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @offensivelyfoul.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.