SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Perry Jones III is hoping he can convince NBA teams to forget the old Perry Jones III before the draft.
There may not have been a college basketball player last season, including Kentucky's heralded big man Anthony Davis, who had a better combination of skills, athleticism, versatility and size than the Baylor University forward. Jones, who is 6-foot-11, 235 pounds, can dribble, shoot from long range, post up, pass and rebound. He can play small forward, power forward and even some shooting guard. That Jones didn't show up for the Bears on a nightly basis, the main reason why he is projected as a top-10 pick and not top overall.
"I don't like that guy. I don't. I don't," Jones told Yahoo! Sports after a workout at Peak Performance Project here this week. "That guy from last season didn't do too well. He didn't do too well at all. I feel like I got a lot to prove. I got a lot of expectations. I want to be successful.
"I want to be an All-Star at the end of the day. Not just be a player who plays a couple of years or a could've been, should've been. I want to be an All-Star."
One prominent NBA agent said Jones' inconsistency cost him a chance to compete for the top spot in this draft and he likely will go no earlier than seventh. Former long-time Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Rasheed Hazzard, who is working out Jones, said he reminds him of a more athletic Lamar Odom.
Jones lived up to his initial hype as the most heralded recruit in Baylor men's basketball history by averaging 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds as a freshman and was named a USBWA Freshman All-American. NCAA investigators, however, ruled him ineligible for receiving improper benefits before enrolling at Baylor. As part of his punishment he was sidelined for a loss to Oklahoma in the 2011 Big 12 tournament that ended the school's chances at an NCAA berth.
He could've challenged Duke's Kyrie Irving for the top selection in the 2011 NBA draft had he entered. In hopes of redeeming himself from the suspension that also included five games this past season, Jones returned to Baylor for his sophomore year.
"Kyrie Irving did his thing," Jones said. "He did it all in the couple of games that he played [for Duke] playing point guard. But it would have been real tough [to be the No. 1 draft pick]. But now I think I'm a lot better than I was last year."
The respect for Jones was strong entering last season: He was named the 2011-12 Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year and was an early national player of the year candidate. But he underachieved, averaging only 10 points in four NCAA tournament games, including a two-point performance against South Dakota State. Staying true to form, he showed his talent against eventual national champion Kentucky in an Elite Eight matchup, scoring 17 points.
Another snapshot of his inconsistency: He had four points in his first game against Kansas State in Big 12 play and a season-high 31 in the second meeting.
"I felt that I didn't have to be a person scoring all the time because I had more scorers out there and more talent than my freshman year," Jones said. "I felt like I didn't have to have all the weight on my shoulders. Now, it shouldn't matter who is on my team or what everyone else can do. I have to do what I know I can do on any given night. That's how you become a great player."
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Jones got his first chance to change perceptions in front of about 70 NBA personnel officials, including nine general managers, in a workout in Santa Barbara on Thursday.
"He was impressive with his athletic abilities," one GM said. "It's obvious he will have more success as a wing player than an inside player. He had a good workout."
Said one assistant GM: "There is going to be a point in the first round where someone is going to say, 'I'm nervous about him, but he by far is the best talent.' "
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