Friday, June 28, 2013

Iona's Jones Signs Free-Agent Contract With Celtics

Another NBA draft has come and gone without a MAAC player selected, but that doesn't mean at least one individual from the conference isn't getting a chance to join the pros.

Lamont "Momo" Jones, the league's Player of the Year for this past season, signed a free-agent contract with the Boston Celtics shortly after the end of Thursday's draft.

It's probably as good an opportunity as any for the 6-foot-0 Jones, considering the Celtics' current rebuilding mode after the team traded away Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce Thursday to the Brooklyn Nets.

Jones averaged 22.6 points per game this past season, third-best nationally.

But, the 6-footer doesn't fit into the cookie-cutter mold, height-wise, for the league's preference for taller shooting guard. And, he only connected on 31.3 percent of his 3-pointers this past season.

Iona used Jones, who played two seasons at Arizona before joining the Gaels, at both guard spots. He averaged 3.4 assists per game in 2012-13, but also 3.4 turnovers per contest.

Here are some comments about Jones, from Kevin O'Connor who writes for SB Nation's Boston Celtics' blog:

"From what I can digest watching only a few videos online, he seems more like a shooting guard than a point guard. He lacks a lot of the orchestrating abilities you look for in a point guard, but he has the abilities to be a scoring spark off the bench. He has a very fast and compact dribble, a valuable asset to have in the NBA. Since he had 3.4 turnovers per game, I would assume that the majority of his turnovers came from a lack of good passing instincts and not a loose handle on his dribble.

"I doubt Lamont Jones makes the team considering the Celtics have so many guards on the roster, but he seems like a good guy to bring in for the summer league. He seems to play with a lot of energy and could be a guy that pushes other players to get better since he is so offensive-oriented."

During the season your Hoopscribe chatted with an NBA coach about Jones' draft prospects.

The scout indicated that Jones' height (or, lack thereof) for a player who isn't a point guard, would ensure that he'd go undrafted but that the Iona standout would almost assuredly get a look over the summer. And, that if the NBA doesn't materialize right away then Jones had the potential for a lengthy and profitable pro career overseas.

Which, so far, is exactly the route Jones appears to be on, although the guess here is that Jones' strong offensive game will get him a strong look and a real chance to make an NBA roster.

This year marked the fifth straight NBA draft that did not include a MAAC player.

The last conference player selected was 7-footer Jason Thompson, a first-round pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 2008 draft.

Prior to that, Jared Jordan, a point guard from Marist, was a second-round selection of the Los Angeles Clippers in 2007 and Luis Flores, a shooting guard from Manhattan, was a second-round pick of the Houston Rockets in 2004.

Flores' selection ended a 12-year drought for the MAAC, after the Clippers made former La Salle standout guard Randy Woods a first-round pick in 1992.

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