Jonesing for a shot

Perry Jones III (Getty Images)

Perry Jones III (Getty Images)

Mike Ganter, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:31 AM ET

Perry Jones III is done trying to convince everyone he can help an NBA team.

He just wants to convince one.

Whether that one is Bryan Colangelo in Toronto or some other GM or some coach, Jones really doesn’t care.

“The big question about me seems to be if I can compete every night and that is what I have been doing every workout,” the 6-foot-11, 234-pound Baylor product said. “Hey, I can’t satisfy everyone but if the coaches like the way I compete, then that’s good.”

On that front, it was mission accomplished in Toronto. Raps’ executive vice-president of basketball operations Ed Stefanski admitted he has heard the rap on Jones and none of it was on display in Wednesday’s workout.

“Today he really competed, so yeah, that’s been a question all through his career about his motor, but today he competed right with all of them,” Stefanski said. “Perry Jones is an extremely skilled man at 6-foot-11. The question you have to figure out, is Perry Jones III a four (power forward) or a three (small forward) and that’s something we will discuss thoroughly, but he’s extremely skilled.

‘Them’ was a group of first-round projected forwards that included Jones, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, North Carolina’s John Henson and Kentucky’s Terrence Jones.

That quartet has been seeing a lot of each other over the past few weeks. The last five workouts Henson has conducted has included all four or a handful of that group.

Toronto was stop No. 6 on Jones’ workout tour. He has two more stops, in Philly and Washington before he can sit back with the rest of us and await the results on draft night next Thursday.

It was interesting to listen to first Sullinger and then Jones as they conducted their post-workout interviews.

Both, at least in the minds of those who put out mock drafts and indulge in the whispers behind the draft workout scene, are slipping in the draft. In truth, no one really knows.

Jones knows this and pays as little attention as possible to the naysayers. Sullinger, on the other hand is much more defensive about the perception of him slipping. When it’s raised, he goes on the attack suggesting those making such statements don’t know anything because they have never played the game at his level and never will.

Sullinger comes across as angry. Jones seems to put himself above it all. Having dealt with incredible expectations of others and the backlash when he didn’t meet them has prepared him for this.

Jones chose not to declare for the NBA draft last season even though he was projected as a top-five pick because in his heart he knew he wasn’t ready to handle it, either physically or mentally. The extra year has helped him a lot.

“Being able to take criticism,” Jones said when asked where he progressed the most in his second season at Baylor. “I got a lot of criticism last year and I was able to play through it, not worry about it, and go on to the next game or the next play.”

The question that remains to be answered is whether he has convinced a team or a GM or a coach that he has turned the corner and can become a good NBA pro who brings it on a consistent basis.

Even Jones admits it’s going to take a bit of a leap of faith.

Teams get a look at him and the chance to interview him at group workouts like the one conducted in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. Other than that, there’s only the workout in their own gyms and follow-up interviews that teams have to go on.

“It’s up to them to take a chance on me and see for themselves,” Jones said. “They will see what they see in workouts. All I have to do is satisfy them. I don’t have to satisfy nobody else.”

He is then asked if he thinks he has to prove himself even a little more than the next guy because of the reputation, deserved or not, that he carries from college. Jones swats that one away with ease.

“ No, not really,” he says after giving it some thought. “That would just pressure on myself. I just go out there and play and most of all have fun because if I’m not having fun there’s no point in being out there.”

Trying to satisfy everyone, or more precisely letting everyone’s opinions about him affect him, has only served to slow Jones down.

Identified as a potential NBA superstar as far back as Grade 9, Jones for a time tried to live up to everyone else’s impressions. He has admitted spending far too much time and effort searching social media to see what the public thought of him.

That is the old Jones.

The new Jones comes across as quietly confident in his abilities and clear in his goals: Get drafted and then let the chips fall where they may.

Someone is going to take that chance on Perry Jones. And someone may be very happy that they did.

 


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