Mason Jones says he’s full speed ahead in the process of preparing to enter the NBA draft even though, as of Monday, he had still not taken the final step. “I’m getting real close to hiring an agent,” Jones told The Pig Trail Nation’s Drew Amman. “I’m almost down to the nitty gritty part.”
Even though various draft projections have Jones going in the late second round or not up on the board at all, he hinted that there is more to his draft status than most are aware of. “There’s a lot of things going on behind the scenes that’s going to show up on draft night,” Jones predicted. “I’m going to continue to surprise a lot of people just like I have my whole career. The mock drafts, I see myself going up on some and I see myself not on some. I don’t let it get to me. I just put my faith in God and let him handle it.”
“If you don’t let people tell you no for an answer you can overcome a lot of things,” Jones continued. “I’ve wanted to show people that they was wrong about me my whole life. Just because I’m a late bloomer and I didn’t have success early on, I was counted out. That’s really the journey I’ve been on. A lot of people have said, ‘Mase can’t do this. Mase can’t do that and I’ve just steadily proved people wrong.”
Jones is not shy about discussing what he thinks he will bring to the NBA team that gives him a shot. “I can score at all three levels,” Jones pointed out. “I can get to the rack. I can get to the line. I can do the midrange. I can shoot the three. That’s why it was hard to guard me this year. Teams didn’t know what to do with me. If they press up on me I can go past a faster defender by being smarter and knowing exactly what spots I want to get to. Plus I’m a competitor and I love to win so everything is going to translate.”
Jones figures he brings something else to the table: The experience of learning from and playing for current Arkansas and former NBA coach Eric Musselman. He also hopes to end up in a similar situation with a similar coach to the one he had this past season. “I feel like that’s going to help me moving along in my journey to the NBA,” Jones emphasized. “I have dealt with an NBA coach for an entire season. Knowing what he expects and what he looks for and what the scouting report is going to be, it’s just incredible. I just need a coach like coach Muss. Trusting in me. Letting me rock and just being there when I need him and having a coaching staff and teammates that push me.”
Jones said he weighed all his options in making the decision to bypass his senior season including the possible positives and negatives of staying or going. In the end he’s convinced he made the right decision and he’s happy that his last game as a Razorback is one that he’ll always remember.
Referring to the his previous two games against Vanderbilt (he failed to score in the first half of the game in Nashville and tallied just one point in the Fayetteville rematch) Jones said of Arkansas’ SEC Tournament win over the Commodores, “That was very personal. I didn’t know that was going to be the last game but just knowing how many times they double teamed me and I was able to make the right play and find the right people, the experience was overwhelming.”
Jones closed out his college career with 22 points, six rebounds and six assists and believes that game showcased the very skills he will need at the next level. “How to keep my teammates involved. How to be comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. Things that will help me as I continue my journey,” he emphasized”
Jones admits that the abrupt end to his final season at Arkansas left him with goals he still wanted to accomplish, specifically the run he feels his team was about to make in the SEC Tournament and beyond. But he was also left feeling blessed with the time he had at Arkansas.
“God was able to let me fulfill my dream of playing high major D-1,” Jones reflected. “I was able to show people that it wasn’t a mistake that Coach A, (Mike Anderson) coach (T.J.) Cleveland and the old coaching staff brought me in. It wasn’t a mistake that coach Muss gave me so much freedom because I earned it and I worked hard for it. I just want to continue to be Mason and let God control everything and not let myself get caught up in mock drafts.”