By Greg DeVries
Perry Jones III gets enough criticism to make Tim Tebow feel bad for him. I can’t remember a sophomore getting this level of vilification, especially one that averages 14 points and eight rebounds per game.
Everybody has an opinion of Jones. In the coming weeks, Jones will decide whether he wants to stay in school or enter the NBA Draft.
It doesn’t matter what he chooses. People will criticize it either way. But put yourself in Jones’ enormous shoes. You really can’t fault the kid either way.
If he stays at Baylor, the basketball team will be Final Four capable. They only lose three players to graduation, and the incoming recruiting class is projected to be very strong.
If he returns, he will have another year of ridiculously high expectations that he likely will not meet — not because of his talent level, but because of Baylor’s style of basketball. The Bears don’t play one-on-one basketball, and Jones isn’t going to take 15 shots per game.
If he enters the NBA Draft, he will be scrutinized for his lack of physicality. But here is something that many of Perry’s critics fail to mention: Jones is highly touted because of his potential, not because of his current output. NBA teams draft based on projections, not results. That is why so many players leave college for the NBA after just one season.
Student-athletes, for the most part, are not NBA-ready after their freshman year.
When the Dallas Mavericks drafted Dirk Nowitzki, they didn’t expect him to have an immediate impact. They wanted him for the years down the road. In fact, in Nowitzki’s first season, he only averaged eight points and just more than three rebounds per game.
The same is true of LaMarcus Aldridge. The Portland Trailblazers drafted him for development. In his first season, he only averaged nine points and five rebounds per game.
The same will be true of Jones. The only difference is that his criticism will probably stick with him. He will probably have similar stats in his rookie season — maybe even fewer points. But if people want to hold Jones to the all-star standard that Nowitzki and Aldridge are held to, then he should be given the time to develop that they were given.
Even if you firmly believe that Jones isn’t ready for the NBA and that he absolutely has to return to school to develop his game, his family situation should still take precedence in his decision. If his family desperately needs the money that he would earn from being a high draft pick, then nobody can fault him for leaving early. Basketball takes a back seat to family needs every day of the week.
Regardless of his decision, Jones will be a solid NBA player down the road. He is high on every team’s draft board and will not be falling.
As a Houston Rockets fan, I only hope he doesn’t go to the San Antonio Spurs — this year or any year.
Greg DeVries is a sophomore journalism major from Houston and is a sports writer for the Lariat.