After making USF history Thursday night by becoming the highest Bull ever drafted, Dominique Jones said he’s anxious to see what kind of challenges the NBA will present.
“It feels good (to be drafted in the first round),” Jones said in a statement. “I feel like USF was a good choice for me. I worked my way up. This is just a turning point. I have to keep going. I’ve got a long ways to go. I’m ready.”
Jones, the Big East’s second leading scorer last season and one of the best players in USF history, was selected in the first round with the 25th overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2010 NBA draft. He was then traded to the Dallas Mavericks, who apparently wanted Jones so bad they paid the Grizzlies $3 million to jump into the first round.
Memphis drafted two other shooting guards – Kansas’ Xavier Henry with the 12th overall pick and Maryland’s Greivis Vazquez at No. 28. – so they could afford trading Jones, who surpassed forward Solomon Jones as the highest pick in program history.
“If they paid $3 million to get into the first round to get me – whew,” Jones said to the Associated Press. “That means I’ve got high expectations.”
Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban said he had his eye on Jones throughout the whole process.
“We were trying for a while to make a move and get this guy, and as a couple moves fell through, we started to get nervous. We finally got the deal done with one minute left to pick, and we’re very happy with the result,” Cuban said to the Dallas Morning News of the maneuver to acquire Jones, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Lake Wales.
“He’s a scorer, he’s a defender and he knows how to play. That’s really all you can ask for. I think he’ll fit in well.”
Part of Jones’ arsenal that the Mavericks are so intrigued with is his ability to create off the dribble, a skill Maverick’s star forward Dirk Nowitzki recently said he would like to see in a future teammate.
Jones, a first-team all-Big East selection, made a living in the collegiate ranks by using his strong frame to shield off defenders and get to the free-throw line.
“I have a strong body,” Jones said to reporters Thursday night. “I love (physical contact) because everybody else doesn’t.”
Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle said he was impressed when he talked with Jones before the draft, adding that his ability to draw fouls “translates extremely well” from college to the NBA.
“When we interviewed him, he said he felt like a cross between Dwyane Wade and (Rodney Stuckey); that sounded pretty good to me,” Carlisle said to the AP. “I don’t want to put too much pressure on him right away, but to be able to score like he scores, you’ve got to not only get to the rim, but you’ve got to be able to play mid-range, weave in and out, get places, bump, create separation and knock down shots. His ability to get to the free-throw line is really unique. I think that’s what makes him special.”
Jones, 21, will join Dallas’ first pick last year – 22-year-old point guard Roddy Beaubois – as the possible backcourt of the future for the Mavericks. At least that’s how management envisions it.
“We’re excited about that backcourt,” Mavericks President Donnie Nelson said to ESPNDallas.com’s Jeff Caplan. “Those are our two young guns that are going to take the baton and run with it.”
Jones is expected to report to preseason workouts at the American Airlines Center in early July and participate with the Maverick’s Summer League team in Las Vegas from July 9-18.