“I decided to withdraw from the NBA draft because there’s a stigma of the level I played at my three years at Coastal Carolina University,” Jones told ESPN. “Being able to transition to the Big Ten and play under Juwan Howard will be the perfect opportunity for me to showcase my abilities on a higher stage. I had great conversations with NBA teams, but I would love to keep proving the world wrong because a lot of people believe I’ll get to Michigan and ‘fall off.'”
The NCAA deadline for players to withdraw from the NBA draft and maintain college eligibility is Wednesday.
Jones, a 6-foot-1 point guard, was named Sun Belt Player of the Year as a junior after averaging 19.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.8 steals per game, leading Coastal Carolina to the Championship game of the College Basketball Invitational. He announced in early May that he’ll be transferring to Michigan, spurning offers from Texas, Texas Tech, Memphis and others.
Jones emerged as one of the best defenders at the G League Elite Camp in Chicago last week thanks to his 6-foot-6 wingspan and impressive instincts putting pressure on the ball and getting in passing lanes. He’s also a creative scorer who shows fluidity and pace changing speeds operating out of pick and roll, as well as a strong mid-range game and soft touch on his floater. He shot 37% from 3-point range this past season.
“During this entire NBA process I believe I showcased my ability to defend at a high-level,” Jones said. “I showed teams I belong with the ‘high-major’ players; I’m hungry and willing to do whatever it takes to win and become the best player I can. Teams knew I could score, but doing it against better competition opened their eyes. I know I have a lot more to prove and work on.”
Jones will be stepping into the void left by senior Mike Smith, who led the Big Ten in assists and helped the Wolverines secure a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and a Big Ten regular season championship.
“I’m looking forward to proving to NBA teams that I can lead a team, control an offense and that my three ball is consistent and reliable. Showing them I’m able to compete at a high level on both ends of the court every single night and that I’m a team guy first and foremost. I know if my team wins then I’ll win as well.”
Despite losing projected lottery pick Franz Wagner and potential second round picks Isaiah Livers and Chaundee Brown, Michigan is a projected top-10 preseason team according to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello after landing the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, with three McDonald’s All-Americans in projected 2022 top-10 pick Caleb Houstan, Moussa Diabate and Kobe Bufkin, as well as Frankie Collins, the No. 36 recruit in the class according to ESPN.
“I want to thank God for everything. I’m truly blessed and forever grateful. Being about to play at the University of Michigan is a dream come true, especially under a well-respected man like Juwan Howard. Ann Arbor and the Michigan community, it’s going to be an amazing experience. I’m going to give them everything I have. After we beat all the odds, there won’t be any more question marks.”
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