Kevin Jones Enjoying The 'Grind' Of Being An NBA Prospect - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Kevin Jones Enjoying The 'Grind' Of Being An NBA Prospect


Every year a new crop of NBA prospects endure the same thing. It is a bit of a ‘rite of passage.' These prospects log tons of frequent flier miles traveling all over the country to visit and workout for NBA teams.

Former West Virginia University star Kevin Jones etched his name in the WVU record books and is preparing for the next step in his career, which should include an opportunity to make an NBA roster.

Jones has already worked out for three NBA teams and has countless more workouts coming up. Jones visited the Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder. He will visit the Chicago Bulls this weekend and the Miami Heat early next week.

"It's tiring," Jones said with a smile,  "But you have to think about the ultimate goal and that is to make a team. There are 60 picks and you are trying to be one of those picks. When you are tired, that is all you have to think about. Think about the sacrifices you made to get to this point and it is all worth it at the end. "

Jones sacrificed a potential paycheck a year ago and decided to come back to WVU for his senior season and improve his draft stock. He was projected to be a late second round pick at best in the two-round draft last year. Now he is projected as a late first round pick to early second round pick and his stock could rise following these workouts and the NBA scouting combine.

"It was definitely great to get that experience (last year)," Jones stated.  "Just the fact that I went through the process and got some good feedback and was able to put that feedback into play. It was definitely a great advantage for me and I am glad I stayed for my senior year."

In the past, several former Mountaineers have decided to workout elsewhere leading up to the draft. The new state-of-the-art practice facility is keeping the Mount Vernon, New York native right here in Morgantown to continue working out and prepare for a shot at fulfilling his dream.

"It's definitely a major advantage," Jones exclaimed. "It's an environment that you are comfortable in and you know everybody here. Everybody is willing to help you from my strength coach, Coach Andy (Kettler) to my trainer Rod Baxter who came here from New York to workout with me. It has been a family environment and I couldn't ask for anything else."

It would be easy to get nervous stepping into NBA practice facilities. These organizations provide players with their logoed practice gear. Jones has worn the Celtics green, for example. There is a ton of history in that organization and it could get overwhelming. Jones prepares himself for that prior to each trip and said he is doing a good job of being himself.

"It's a new situation," Jones said. "Every situation is different, but I'm definitely comfortable with the process. This is the first year that I started working out with teams, so that is a different experience all in itself. I've been going through the grind. It's been great. I've been getting great feedback and all I can do is keep working hard." 

Mountaineer fans know that if there is one thing KJ will do it is work hard. His work ethic earns praise from WVU Head Coach Bob Huggins every time he gets a chance to discuss it. Jones returned from Oklahoma City on Wednesday and was back in the WVU practice facility on Thursday to continue working on his game.

Jones and his brother, Gerard, recently made a video of Jones' workouts in Morgantown. They wanted to show how hard he is pushing himself to get better. However, what you see in that video is not exactly how the workouts go with the individual NBA teams.

"It is more of a competitive workout as opposed to a one-on-one workout where I am dribbling the basketball," Jones stated. "It's more of a competitive thing where they are trying to teach you some of their philosophies that they follow and they see who commit the fastest to it and I think I've been doing pretty well with that. I've had great competition at all three of the workouts, so the experience has just been great."

The new practice facility in Morgantown is drawing a who's who of former players. Da'Sean Butler, John Flowers and Alex Ruoff are all using the facility. Joe Alexander is expected to join that list next week. Jones' former teammates are offering as much advice as they possibly can.

"They are definitely helping me," Jones said. "They have been through the process and all the workouts and stuff and going against guys in workouts. They are just telling me to by myself basically and work on the stuff that you are not as good at right now. They also tell me don't stray away from what you are really good at and that is what impresses people the most is being consistent at the stuff that you are really good at."

Jones is an outstanding rebounder and that is an understatement. He finished his college career fourth all-time in WVU school history with 1,048 rebounds. He is just the second player in school history to score more than 1,800 points and grab more than 1,000 rebounds. The only other WVU player to achieve that is Jerry West.

"One of the things Coach Huggins always told me is that if you can rebound very good in college, it translates in the NBA," Jones said. "I think a lot of NBA teams are looking for me to be an energy guy and go out and rebound. I shoot the mid-range jumper pretty well. I just want to go out and prove my worth and prove how I can make some organization better with my talents."

Jones made a name for himself at WVU for his play on the court and his attitude off of it. KJ never got into trouble around town. Anyone who saw him away from the Coliseum talked about his great attitude. Perhaps the most reassuring part of this ‘grind' is that KJ has maintained that great attitude and perspective.

"I'm getting enjoyment out of it," Jones smiled. "Just the fact that people want me to come to their workouts and consider me for the NBA, which has been a childhood dream of mine, that's enjoyment in itself. I'm just taking everything in right now and getting ready for every workout I go to."

Up next for Jones, a visit to Chicago.

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