Pacers assistant coach Dan Burke could be the next Gregg Popovich–in terms of having a terse interview style, that is.
On the second day of Summer League camp, Burke was given a question in which the reporter asking hoped to receive multiple responses. Burke gave one answer: Kevin Jones. The question: Which players had stood out thus far?
“Kevin, he’s got ability to use his body, create angles,” Burke said. “He runs the floor, he shoots the mid-range jumper. He’s a great rebounder…He’s that one that’s really jumped out for me.“
This is the third summer since Kevin Jones graduated from WVU, leaving behind a legacy of being a hard-working, high basketball IQ, bring-your-lunchpail type of player. The type of player that resonates with a West Virginia fan base who bring those same qualities to their workplaces. Jones’ workplace is the basketball court, and this is the first summer in which Jones is fully healthy.
He spent the last two summers as a member of the Cleveland Cavs Summer League squad. In his first year, he was held back with a leg injury. Last summer he had a concussion which kept him from competing in Summer League play. Not being able to get quality minutes against NBA-level competition has hindered Jones somewhat from getting an opportunity to earn a role on a regular season roster.
He played in 32 games with the Cleveland Cavs during his rookie season. He also played for the Cavs D-League affiliate in Canton where he put up big numbers night in and night out. He most recently played for the San Miguel Beermen in the Philippines this past spring where he averaged 27.4 points and 15 rebounds per contest.
The tutelage he gained under Bob Huggins at WVU and the experience he has gained playing in the D-League and for San Miguel could help him earn at least a training camp invite this fall for a Pacers squad bad need of rebounding help, as evidenced in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat.
The Pacers were crushed by the New Jersey Nets in the Summer League opener early on Saturday morning by the score of 101-81. Jones started and led the Pacers in rebounding with 8 and added 6 points and 2 blocked shots in 22 minutes.
The Pacers tip-off Summer League play in Orlando today at 3:00 p.m. ET against the Boston Celtics. That game will be televised on NBATV. Jones hopes his experience will help him to continue to stand out.
“I’m still learning as well as they’re learning, but just (having) that gear under my belt of NBA experience taught me how to conduct myself and how to come in and work every day,” Jones said. “So I would say I have a slight advantage.”
That slight advantage could turn into a roster spot for the Mountaineer.