KJ still looking to find his place in NBA

KJ still looking to find his place in NBA

When Kevin Jones left West Virginia after leaving his mark as one of the best to ever play in a Mountaineer uniform, he had an idea of how things would play out in the future.

But after having his heart set on hearing his name called in the NBA draft and getting ready to start an NBA career, Jones went undrafted – starting, instead, on a different path to the NBA.

After bouncing back and forth between the D-League's Canton Charge and occasional appearances with the Cleveland Cavaliers in his first two professional seasons, Jones found himself finishing last season playing in the Philippines. Last season for the Charge, Jones averaged 16.9 points and eight rebounds per game, and was named an all-star.

He's had a taste of the league, making 32 appearances with the Cavaliers during the 2012-13 season where he averaged three points and a little more than two rebounds in 10 minutes per game. But it was a small taste that just made him realize how badly he wants to make it for good.

"It's been a tough journey, but I don't think I'd have it any other way looking back now," Jones said. "The things I've gone through in these last couple years have definitely molded me into a more mature player and a more mature person. I know about the business side of things as well."

That business side has been the thing that was the most important piece of the game for Jones to learn up to this point. Although he has been productive throughout each stint in whatever league he has played in, he knows that it's going to take finding a team where he fits properly before he knows where he should be.

"It's a numbers game. You have to be the right fit for the team," he said. "It's not about who has the most talent because there are a ton of really talented guys who aren't in the NBA but probably are good enough to be. It's about finding the right fit and having good timing."

Jones is hoping he'll be able to find that right fit this summer as he gets ready to play in the NBA Summer League. While he's still looking for a team to play with in the Las Vegas league that will begin on July 11, the 6-foot-8 forward will be playing with Indiana in the Orlando Summer League which goes from July 5-11.

The Pacers lost to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals this season. They currently have three power forwards on the roster: David West, Luis Scola and Lavoy Allen.

But the former WVU star is looking to bring the same consistency he brought to the court every day when he was in Morgantown to try to earn a spot.

"I know myself better as a player and what teams are going to be looking for out of me," Jones said. "I just have to find my niche and find out where I can work best."

When it comes to what Jones needs to fix or alter about his game in order to get there, his former head coach has a hard time pointing to anything. That consistency will be the key.

"KJ is one of those guys who has made himself a good player," said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. "He's not as gifted athletically as some other guys, but he's made up for it because he works so hard. He's here all summer and he's in the gym three times a day.

"He's committed to being a great player, and that's what has got him this far."

While the way he's had to go about getting to it has been changed a bit, and he's had to take a few detours, the ultimate goal has always stayed the same for Jones.

And even though he's been doubted and has to prove himself all over again, Jones doesn't plan on giving it up any time soon. He knows he can be a productive NBA player.

"It's been a tough road, but I'm not going to stop until I get to that ultimate goal," he said. "I have to keep working, that's what I've always done."

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