Kevin Jones Fights for NBA Dream

Kevin Jones has traveled the world to play the game he loves.

A professional career in basketball has taken him to the Philippines, France, Serbia and, most recently, Russia. Now he is back on his college campus with one goal in mind: A spot on an NBA roster.

“It’s tough because you feel like you’re supposed to be in a certain position and you’re not and it keeps on eating at you,” Jones said this week in Morgantown.

This summer, the former West Virginia University standout will take one more shot at his ultimate dream.

He has been close before. He has tasted the NBA during stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers and its D-League affiliate, the Canton Charge, but the past four seasons have been spent in foreign countries with foreign languages and foreign leagues on basketball.

For a native of Mount Vernon, New York, it was a transition that took some getting used to.

“I wasn’t familiar with anything at all before I had to deal with it,” Jones said of the overseas game.

This past season, Jones joined Lokomotiv Kuban in Russia’s VTB United League. His squad made it to the semifinals in both league play and in the EuroCup, despite a rocky start to the season that resulted in the team firing its head coach in the middle of the schedule. Jones led the team in both scoring (13.2 ppg) and rebounding (6.5 rpg), playing in 23 of the team’s 31 league games before suffering a fractured tailbone that has sidelined him the past five weeks.

“A lot of people definitely look down on overseas as far as competition and I can’t lie, I was one of those people,” Jones said. “I always wanted to play in the NBA, I never really had my mind on overseas, but when I got there and played against the competition, these guys are really good. There’s a whole lot of guys that can play easily in the NBA and make good money, but they choose to play overseas.”

Now Jones knows he has a place overseas, wherever that may take him. These past four seasons have erased the stigma he had about foreign ball, but they have no erased his desire to land a position competing at the highest level of the sport back home in the United States.

“I’m very competitive and I feel like I can play at that level and I have played at that level and when I’ve had the chance to produce, I have produced well,” Jones said.

In his season with Cleveland, Jones averaged three points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.4 minutes of action, appearing in 32 games. These days, he watches those who are fortunate enough to make a living in the NBA and wonders why he couldn’t find just as much success on that stage.

“I don’t want to be one of those guys like, oh, I could have done that or I could have made that play better, but it definitely gives me the itch to say I feel like I can be on the court playing with these guys and against these guys,” Jones said. “It just gives me more motivation than anything.”

The biggest lesson Jones has learned since he began earning a paycheck to play basketball is that he needs to be confident in himself. Fresh out of college, he entered a profession with trepidation and he believes it impacted his ability to make the right first impression. Now, with experience and maturity on his side, not to mention a new agent, he is in search of another opportunity to prove himself in Summer League or in training camp.

He knows that at 27, time is not on his side.

“Nobody’s getting younger and I realize that. I know I still have a small window. I believe in myself to the point where I think I can take advantage of the window that I do have,” Jones said. “Maybe it might not be in the cards for me to be in the NBA, but it would be eating away at me if I didn’t try my hardest to do it.”

To that end, Jones has joined former teammates and coaches back at West Virginia University to perfect his game at the basketball practice facility while he continues to heal and eventually show what he can offer if an NBA team wants to give him the chance he’s been working toward.

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