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NEW YORK -- As great as Dominique Jones has been this year, leading the Bulls to 20 wins and leading Big East in scoring, ESPN's Dick Vitale has some direct advice for the USF junior: Give yourself another year before you take your game to the next level in the NBA.

"I think he should definitely come back. I would strongly recommend that to him," Vitale said Monday night. "His stock is going up, but he needs another year to build on what he's done this season."

Jones earned first-team All-Big East honors after leading USF to a 9-9 record in conference play, averaging 23.2 points, and he chipped in another 20 points in Tuesday's opening-round win against DePaul. Jones has said his decision about returning for his senior year will have more to do with how much USF can accomplish as a team this season -- he wants to leave knowing he's taken the Bulls to a new level of success.

Vitale thinks highly of Jones but said he shouldn't leave unless he knows he'll be a first-round draft pick. Second-round picks don't get guaranteed contracts and face long odds to make an NBA roster, often playing on Developmental League affiliates instead.

Vitale is excited that both Stan Heath and USF football coach Skip Holtz will be among the guests at his fifth annual Dick Vitale Gala at the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota on May 21, which aims to raise $1-million to support cancer research at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.

Vitale said last year's event raised $1.2-million, and this year's event will honor former Bucs coach Tony Dungy and Heath's mentor at Michigan State, Tom Izzo. Magic Johnson will introduce Izzo at the event, while current Colts coach Jim Caldwell will introduce Dungy.

[Last modified: bulls]


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