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Jones shows hard work pays off

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Daytona Beach News-Journal

Jones shows hard work pays off


Staff Writer

When the Atlanta Hawks picked Solomon Jones with the 33rd pick of Wednesday night's NBA draft, the shockwaves were felt well beyond the realms of Madison Square Garden.

His selection shows the value of someone turning potential into actual reality. His selection shows the value of resiliency. Most importantly, his selection highlights the importance of hard work.

Jones, who performed well in pre-draft camps and workouts, was thought to be, at best, a late second-round pick in the hours leading up to the draft. Instead, the Hawks surprised the NBA world, making Jones the third pick of the second round. To put this in perspective, Jones was a mere three picks away from sliding into the first round, which would've meant sliding into three years of guaranteed salary.

"This is tremendous," said Will Dunne, the athletics director at Daytona Beach Community College, the place where Jones began his collegiate career. "This is great for the young man because he worked so hard. When he was in high school, nobody thought he was an NBA player. But he got better every year. His skills improved every year."

Now, instead of being a draft afterthought, Jones is someone who has an inside track at impacting the Hawks. He's also someone who has made a bit of history. Jones, who finished his career as an All-Big East performer at the University of South Florida, is the first player since Dunne took over the athletics program in 1988 to be drafted after spending two years at DBCC.

Tim Pickett, the former Mainland standout, spent a year at DBCC before moving on to Indian River Junior College. He then played two seasons at Florida State, made the all-ACC team, and became a second-round draft pick of the New Orleans Hornets. Before Pickett there was Lee Scruggs, a sweet-shooting 6-11 big man with the wingspan of a praying mantis. He went on to play at Georgetown before playing in the NBDL, but he never made it to the NBA.

If Jones pans out, he'll be the first to make it to the NBA after a full two seasons at DBCC. "It would be great to have a kid go through your program for two years and then make it in the NBA," Dunne said. "We've always been a place that focuses on academics before basketball. We think it's important for you to get your degree."

With his 6-11 frame, length and athleticism, Jones has a good shot to make an Atlanta team that has big men the likes of John Henderson and Esteban Batista dotting its roster. At worst, Jones will be sent down to the NBDL for some seasoning, but his potential and his ability to block shots clearly made him a wanted commodity on draft night.

Not bad for a skinny kid from Mount Dora.


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