Jones on the verge of USF history

In the last couple months, former USF guard Dominique Jones has put himself on the verge of becoming the highest draft pick in USF basketball history.

Much speculation has focused on how high and where Jones, who led the Big East in scoring and helped USF to its first postseason appearance since 2001-02, will go in tonight’s 2010 NBA draft at Madison Square Garden, which begins at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

According to draft experts, Jones has helped his stock considerably over the last month, showing his strength and ability to get to the rim during workouts and league combines. He has worked out with 16 different NBA squads in preparation for the draft, and most mock drafts now think Jones, who measures at 6-foot-5 and 216 pounds, is a solid first-rounder, with projections as high as No. 20 overall.

“With nearly 20 percent of his touches coming in transition, Jones gets to the line better than any of his peers on the break,” said of the former Bull. “The USF product doesn’t excel in any one particular offensive situation, though he is a solid isolation player. Much of his success comes from his ability to finish at the rim. … That quality should lend itself well to the NBA.”

Jones, who opted to forgo his senior season at USF, was once thought of as a second-rounder before pre-draft training, but now it seems likely he’ll surpass former USF forward Solomon Jones as the highest USF player drafted. Solomon Jones was selected by the Atlanta Hawks with the 33rd pick (second round) of the 2006 NBA draft.

“My role in the NBA will probably change. I’m satisfied with that because I have to work my way up,” Jones said in an interview with in May. “I doubt they’re going to bring me in to carry a whole team, so I get to pick and choose my spots. I’m going to have a lot of opportunity and space to prove myself … It doesn’t matter what pick I get, I just want to be in the right situation in the long run.”

The main reason Jones has caught the eye of so many NBA teams is his versatility. Primarily a shooting guard in college, many experts think Jones has enough skill to play point guard in the NBA.

“I think I can play both,” Jones said to “I can defend both of them, and being able to get out in the lane and run and attack the basket, I think that’s good upside for me. I like that situation a lot better.”

Jameer Nelson, the starting point guard for the Orlando Magic, recently endorsed Jones in an interview with ESPN the Magazine.

“You always want guys with a knack for filling up the basket, and that’s something Jones (11 25-point outings last season) can do,” Nelson said. “I’m sure we’ll be put over the edge by our pick. Once he learns the pro game, D.J. is a guy who could help keep us there.”