Kevin Jones will always be well known among WVU basketball fans as one of the most entertaining, yet most consistent contributors during his 4 years in Morgantown. He’s a former All-conference, first team selection, an All-American selection, and a member of the Mountaineer’s most recent trip to the NCAA’s “Final Four.” However, with all the accolades and awards won in college, Jones has yet to reach that same type of success on the NBA level.
Jones, a 24 year old out of Mount Vernon, NY was first signed by the Cleveland Cavaliers as an undrafted free agent in 2012. Although the all-Big East First Team, and Second Team All American selection has done very well in the NBA D-League, averaging 16.9 points per game, 8.0 rebounds per game, and a 50.5 field goal percentage, along with a selection to the D-League All-Star Game this past season, KJ had to take his talents elsewhere, (to the Philippines to be exact), to better gain notice from top scouts in the NBA. And so, with a few months spent playing in the Pacific islands, Jones finally earned a fresh opportunity, that coming by way of an invitation to the NBA Summer League camp of the Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers, who were eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals this year, finished the 2013-14 regular season with the best record in the Conference.
While Jones will have enough on his plate with just trying to stay healthy, as many injuries have led to him seeing little, to no significant playing time in games with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he’ll also be facing the hardened challenge of just trying to earn a spot on a very experienced and playoff-tested roster.
So what exactly is the game plan for Jones to accomplish this? First and foremost he’s got to bring a bit of that star-studded scoring touch he had going on for him this past winter spring in the Philippines with him back to America. While playing for the San Miguel Beerman of the Philippines Basketball Association, KJ averaged 27.4 points per game, along with 15.0 rebounds, which are career bests for him on the pro level. This came after a miserable, injury-filled 2012-13 campaign where Jones only averaged 3 points per game, and 2.4 rebounds per game in 32 appearances for the Cleveland Cavaliers. So, it’s very well possible we might indeed be witnessing a resurrection in the pro career of one of WVU’s favorite alumni.
Also, we told you earlier, Jones will be entering the Summer League fully healthy for the first time in his career. In his first year, Jones sustained a heal injury in pre-draft workouts before the 2012 NBA draft. However, 2013’s off season would not prove to be any better for the former All-American as a knee injury would sideline him from most of Summer League action for a second straight year, leading him to being waived by the Cavaliers’ organization.
Flash forward to 2014 where a new opportunity, with a new team appears for Jones. As it stands now the Pacers will only have one pick, the 57th overall pick in the 60 pick draft, thus it’s highly doubtful he’ll have to compete with some of the best prospects in this year’s pool on the Pacers’ roster. Also, as most teams often face in salary cap leagues, the Pacers will look to reload with younger, cheaper talent as they could face the losses of Evan Turner and Lance Stephenson through this summer’s free agency period. But, as witnessed throughout Jones’ first two years of pro ball, nothing’s a guarantee. All that we know is that KJ will be ready to strut his stuff, and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.