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The Inside Scoop on Dominique Jones

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Dominique Jones is officially a Dallas Maverick.  The Mavs acquired Dominique Jones from Memphis after the Grizzlies took him with the 25th pick in the NBA draft.  I was fortunate enough to get in contact with the great people at South Florida's SB Nation Blog and I was able to speak with Voodoo 5.  He is an editor of SB Nation's South Florida blog and he's been watching Dominique Jones play ever since he first stepped on the court for the Bulls. As an added bonus, he moved to the Metroplex after graduating from USF, so he has a unique perspective on how Jones might fit in with the Mavericks.   So let's learn more about the player known as "DoJo."

We have heard stories that he is absolutely proud of his roots and he has an amazingly close relationship with his father, so much so he talks/calls him multiple times a day, can you elaborate on that?

Voodoo 5:  Actually Thursday night during the draft was the first time I heard the "they talk five times a day!" story. But I know that he and his dad are very close, and that sometimes his dad is quoted in the media because it's almost the same as talking to Dominique. And he cares a lot about his home town of Lake Wales. If he wants to be the best player ever from that town, though, he has some big shoes to fill, because Amare Stoudemire is from there too. If that's his goal, I don't think any of us are going to mind.

 

Dominique left for the NBA after his Junior season, what led to the decision to going forward and taking his game to the next level?  

Voodoo 5:  I think he was ready for a new challenge. If he had come back for his senior year, he still would have been unquestionably the best player on the team, and everyone would have focused all their efforts on shutting him down. Sure, he probably would have set the all-time scoring record at USF, and he could have dragged the Bulls to another NIT or maybe into the NCAAs (where we haven't been since 1992), but at what cost? Could he improve his draft stock that much? Would teams mark him down for staying all four years? What if he got hurt? Bulls fans wanted Jones to stay for mostly selfish reasons, but his stock was probably as high as it was going to get this year. He believed he could be a first-round pick, and he really helped himself in the pre-draft workouts to make it come true.

 

How did he feel the competition was in the Big East in terms of toughest teams to play and toughest players to guard?

Voodoo 5:  I don't know how he feels about individual players and teams, but it's possible that his NBA life might be a bit easier because of the talent the Mavericks already have. If the Big East isn't the best basketball conference, it's certainly the toughest, and he led all scorers in conference play this season. Dominique's game against Pittsburgh, where he scored 37 of the Bulls' 70 points and willed them to a win against maybe the best defense in the league, was the best single-game performance I've ever seen from a USF  basketball player.

 

How would you grade his overall work ethic, drive, and willingness to work? 

Voodoo 5:  Oh, he definitely will put the work in. Not only did he play nearly every minute of every game to eke out a 20-win season at USF, but he had to work his way into the first round of the draft. Dominique worked out for 18 different teams in six weeks. The manager of our blog took it upon himself to try and keep up with it all, and if all the teams and all the workouts started running together for him, just imagine what it had to be like for Jones.

Another thing Jones is good at is finding motivation. Sometimes his sources of motivation make you want to roll your eyes (my favorite was earlier this week when he claimed that message-board haters helped him make up his mind to leave school), but he will find the drive somewhere. 

 

He's clearly a penetrating guard and can create for himself but how is his ability to distribute, does he have the capability to turn his opportunities into shots for others when the option is no longer available for him?

Voodoo 5:  It's hard to say. After Jones's run against Providence, Seton Hall, Pittsburgh, and Georgetown, in which he scored a combined 140 points, teams started flooding the paint to make the Bulls shoot over them. It's true that Jones needs to improve his outside shot, but his teammates were even worse shooters, so while he would do his best to set them up and did a passable job of it, eventually he was forced to try and carry the team himself. It's also worth noting that USF had a pretty stagnant offense overall. If they couldn't get out in transition or get into the paint, not much happened.

 

How does his overall basketball IQ rate?  Is he's the kind of guy that, as you watch him play over a period of games, weeks, months, years, it's easy to see him learning how to make better use of his talents? If he's faced with some in-game strategy or situation that gives him trouble, does he show an ability to figure out why it caused him trouble, fix that why, and then handle it better the next time he's confronted with it?

Voodoo 5:  I think he's aware of his current limitations, if that's what you mean. He knows that his outside shot is his big (maybe only) weakness, and when he's had other problems he's been very good at self-diagnosing and trying to correct them. (That's one bonus of him landing with the Mavericks - we know Cuban will go to great lengths to help his players get better. I'd love to see Brad Davis or Ro Blackman get a hold of him.)

I think he also knows in the flow of the game what the best way to help the team win is. Granted most nights at USF it meant he had to take over and start drawing fouls, but he usually made the right decision.

 

We've heard plenty about his offensive abilities, what about the defense?  How are his instincts with defending and his overall footwork techniques?

Voodoo 5:  He's a decent defender, and he's heady enough to anticipate some plays and break them up, either deflecting the ball away or stealing it. I wouldn't call him a lockdown defensive guy, but he's functional, and compared to Roddy Beaubois and Jason Terry, he's going to look good. Dominique also had to learn how to meter out his fouls, since the team heavily depended on his offensive abilities and he rarely left the court. If he has a bench role or even a sixth-man role down the line, it might free him up to be a more aggressive defender.

 

In our current day in age, it's about labeling players as quickly as we can.  The early analysis has Jones capable of being a player similar to Dwayne Wade, coach Carlisle even alluded to it.  As someone who has watched Jones over the years, are these comparisons fair or over the top?

Voodoo 5:  It's a fair description. In fact, one of our other editors on the blog saw him in person when the Bulls upset Georgetown and wrote that Jones was "a middle class version (of Wade) with a matched 401(k) and stock options." They both find ways to get to the rim and draw contact, and Dominique can also take a hit and still make the shot. His balance in the air, especially after being fouled, is impressive. 

Jones has the Wade-like ability to live at the free throw line (and he doesn't need Bennett Salvatore to give him a bunch of BS calls, either). He set the single-season USF record for free throws last year, and he made around 75% of them for his career. With looser continuation rules and the defensive three-second call in the NBA, those talents should translate very well to the pros. I think Wade is a better shooter, but Jones can certainly improve his outside shot like Wade did.

 

Circle July 9th on your calendars because that will be the Mavericks first summer league game and our first opportunity to take a look at Dominique.  The team will consist of Jones, Roddy Beaubois and an assorted group of NBA hopefuls.  We really appreciate Voodoo 5 and the people at South Florida's SB Nation Blog for their help and insight with regards to Dominique Jones.  To read more about all things about the SF Bulls, please go to http://www.voodoofive.com/