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Perry Jones III: National Big Man of Mystery

Mar 25, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Baylor Bears forward Perry Jones III (1) celebrates getting to wear one of the less ugly Baylor jerseys offered, with a dunk.  Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE
Mar 25, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Baylor Bears forward Perry Jones III (1) celebrates getting to wear one of the less ugly Baylor jerseys offered, with a dunk. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE

Who is Perry Jones III?

This is a question a lot of scouts, GM's, prospect gurus and those even further removed(i.e us) are asking right now. Maybe you already know all about the man called "PJ3"(Baylor nicknames are creative, aren't they?). Maybe you don't know anything. Maybe, Real World style, you think you know, but have no idea.

Whatever the case may be, here is the reason I want to talk about about Jones.

April 30th - In Mock Draft 4.0, Chad Ford mocks Perry Jones 7th, to Golden State.

June 5th - In Mock Draft 6.0, Chad Ford mocks Perry Jones 12th, to Milwaukee.

June 13th - In Mock Draft 7.0, Chad Ford mocks Perry Jones 19th, to Orlando.

You're noticing a trend here, right?

So just what is it about Perry Jones that has Chad Ford convinced he's dropping on draft boards around the league? And, keep in mind, Chad Ford is not simply picking names out of a hat, or so indecisive he changes his mind every week. The Mock Drafts are a composite of what he hears from sources around the league, many of whom are involved in the scouting departments of various NBA teams. So, we can infer that Perry Jones dropping is an indication that some(at least Chad Ford's sources, anyway) are less enamored of Jones than they were three weeks ago.

Before we can answer that, we should probably back up for a minute, though, and go back to the original question. Who is Perry Jones III?

A star at Duncanville High, about a 20 minute drive from the American Airlines Center, 6'11 forward Perry Jones III committed to Baylor when he was just 15 years old, and after a celebrated high school career, joined the Bears with sky-high expectations. Rivals, ESPN and a host of other recruiting sites had him near the top of prospect lists, and after Baylor's surprise Elite Eight run in 2010, Jones was supposed to be the man that would cement the program as one of college basketball's new superpowers.

Indeed, Jones led Baylor back to the Elite Eight himself just three months ago, before falling to the eventual champions. Yet, the general consensus remains that Perry did not reach his potential as a collegiate, and that his star is less bright now than it was when he was a precocious teen. For his part, he did average 13 points and 7 rebounds in both his freshman and sophomore seasons, and there were moments where the potential was as blinding as the sun, such as the 31-point eruption in the opening game of the Big 12 tournament against Kansas State, which prompted a personal visit from Wildcat coach Frank Martin after the game. Martin saw that night what scouts see in their minds eye when they think of PJ3: a long, tall, athletic 6'11 kid with guard-skills and a quiet, humble demeanor.

The problem is, too often Jones would seem to sort of disappear in games, to coast and simply allow himself to be an observer and inactive participant. Scouts saw the 4 points in 41 minutes including overtime against West Virginia, or the 2 points in 33 minutes in the opening round of the tournament against San Diego State. The game seemed to come easy to Jones, but he did not seem to come easy to it, if you follow. Some have questioned his heart, many his motor, and if the draft buzz floating around lately is to be believed, those concerns were not alleviated at the combine in Chicago.

If you were to put a gun to my head and ask me if I thought Perry Jones III would be on the board when pick #17 comes up on June 28th, I would probably say no. Really, you don't need the gun, I'll just say no now and save us the drama. However, I must also reveal my growing interest in the trend laid out above. Ford is not alone in his summation, afterall: also has Jones falling past the Dallas Mavericks, and draft express has him going at #15 to Philly, within striking distance trade-wise.

Does Dallas have any interest in Jones? I really don't know. As Mike Fisher might like me to mention, I haven't talked to anyone within the Dallas organization. As a fan, Jones represents a pretty tantalizing idea, however; one I have hard time imagining the front office would not at least be made curious by. Here are Jones measurements and athletic testing numbers from the combine:

Height w/ shoes: 6'11 1/4

Weight: 233.8

Wingspan: 7'1 3/4

Standing reach: 8'10 1/2

Max vertical: 38.5

Lane agility: 11.31

Sprint time: 3.19

So, some context. The standing reach was better than bonafide centers like Festus Ezeli and Tyler Zeller. The lane agility time was better than a bunch of guards and small forwards, such as Austin Rivers, Terrence Ross, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, John Jenkins, etc. The sprint time and max vertical numbers are simply ludicrous for a near-7 footer, and were among the best recorded at the combine.

I wouldn't want to fall into the trap of going doe-eyed over a bunch of numbers on a computer, of course. Let it be said that these combine tests are, most of the time, merely testing themselves, exposing which drills are completely unreliable in evaluating prospects, and which might, every blue moon, pick out a player from the discard pile. On the whole, if you want to disregard the whole process as the underwear Olympics, that is well within your right to do and I won't tell you you're wrong.

However, when I look at Perry Jones I see a player that has the size to possibly fill out and be a center, and the skill and athletic ability to possibly stick at small forward(this being, supposedly, his personal wish). Most likely, he is something in between, a stretch four who plays in spots similar to our own Dirk Nowitzki, but the versatility is there to play on either side of Dirk, and the talent is such that, on the right team, with the right coaching staff, it isn't difficult to imagine him blossoming into a star.