NBA Draft Blog Interview with Momo Jones

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Lamont “Momo” Jones capped off his senior year at Iona by leading the Gaels to their second consecutive NCAA berth. His ability to lead and score (Jones averaged 22.6 points per game, third in the nation) helped Iona recover from some early-season trouble and win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship.

Jones is now getting ready to show his skills to NBA teams, but he understands how the time at Iona helped him get here. “I’d say most as a leader,” said Jones when asked what part of his game developed most at Iona. “We had a lot of new players, and it was good to help them get acclimated.” The benefits extended beyond the court. “It helped me become a better father also.”

Jones has a better idea of what to expect going into this process after watching and learning from former teammate, and current D-League player, Scott Machado. “Watching what Scott went through, I learned to be humble,” said Jones. “Scott kept his teammates around him happy and honest.  I decided to take that and add it my ability to score.”

Confident in his abilities, Jones knows what the key parts of his game are. “I think it’s my ability to be a team player,” said Jones. “I get along with everybody and that’s important for a lot of the situations coming up. You may be playing with 12 different personalities and it’s important to get along with them all.”

“I’m a scorer, that’s what I do,” said Jones. “It is fun to get your teammates involved also. It is actually more fulfilling to me to make the pass that leads to a basket.”  Jones knows how the NBA game has evolved and he sees where the opportunity may be. “The combo guard has become what the NBA is mainly about,” said Jones. “There are very few point guards who are just distributors anymore.”

He knows his game isn’t where it needs to be yet to play at the pro level. “I need to work on reading the pick-and-roll; finding how to make the right reads and see all the options,” said Jones. “My jumper can always get better and I just need to focus on making the right decisions.”

Jones has already had his share of success at the college level, including the opportunity to play in three NCAA Tournaments, one with Arizona and two with Iona. He also came to realize what an opportunity that was. “You get a sense of playing at the highest level,” said Jones. “It really brings the best and the competitive nature in everyone because you want to win so badly.”

For all the success, Jones has been discussed maybe more often for the numerous changes in schools throughout high school and college that he made. Jones doesn’t dwell on it and sees how it has changed him. “When you are in high school, you really don’t know what to do,” said Jones. “You have all these dreams, hopes, nightmares about the future. I didn’t have the guidance that a lot of people did, but I own my decisions.”

After committing to Louisville at the age of 15, Jones had second thoughts.  “I was growing up and becoming a man of my own,” says Jones. “As you grow, you start to see what you want and what you don’t want.”  There was another commitment and decommitment at Virginia Tech before settling on going to play for USC. He was excited to play with a solid group of recruits at USC, before Tim Floyd resigned in June, 2009. “I was the last the one to decommit from USC after that happened,” said Jones. “I didn’t want to go, but to this day I haven’t gotten an explanation from Tim Floyd (about his leaving).”

He made the move to Arizona, and even enjoyed an Elite Eight run with them in 2011. Then real life intervened. Jones’ grandmother was very sick back in New York and he was left with the decision of how to proceed. “I never wanted to leave Arizona, it was home to me,” says Jones. “Being there did a lot for me as a person and a player.”

He made the decision to return home and look to play nearby his ailing grandmother. “When my grandmother was sick, I was torn, but I had to choose my family,” said Jones. “I hoped that by returning home it would help my family and give them hope.”

Jones decided to play at Iona, and was granted a waiver to play immediately. He doesn’t regret any of the decisions he made to get to this point. “Every move made me a better person which in turn helped make me a better basketball player,” said Jones. “You can’t make these kinds of decisions based on what other people think or what the media may think.”

Jones is now in Portsmouth, Virginia for the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. The Tournament features 64 seniors who have the opportunity to show what they are capable of in front of a gym full of NBA executives and scouts. “I’ve come here hoping to play with some great players,” said Jones. “I’m here to show everyone that I can do more than score.  I can do whatever a team needs me to do.”

 

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