Surprise: Jones undecided, could return to USF
When USF junior guard Dominique Jones decided last month that he was skipping his senior year to enter the NBA draft, he left the door open for a change of heart by not signing with an agent.
Saturday is the deadline for underclassmen to withdraw their names from the draft, and Jones' father, Norman, said Tuesday that his son has his first workout with an NBA team on Friday but is considering returning to USF for his senior year.
"I'd say it's 50-50 right now," said his father, who declined to share which NBA team Jones was working out with. "He hasn't worked out for anyone, so this workout, how it goes and what they tell him, it may steer him one way or the other, positively or negatively."
Jones, the Big East's leading scorer in conference play and a first-team all-Big East selection, has been generally projected to go somewhere between the 21st and 40th picks in the NBA draft -- going in the first round means a guaranteed rookie contract, while second-round draft picks rarely get such guarantees.
Jones' father said his son has gotten "a lot of mixed reviews" about his draft position, estimating that 60 percent of what they had been told had been positive in nature. That uncertainty, combined with a deadline for withdrawing that is a full month earlier than in past years, have Jones reconsidering his decision.
Jones has not returned calls since USF's basketball banquet three weeks ago, when he drew a standing ovation from fans after a junior year in which he led the Bulls to their postseason appearance since 2002.
USF coach Stan Heath has an unused scholarship and would naturally welcome back Jones, who would be in position to challenge Charlie Bradley's 25-year-old USF career scoring record. More important, with a strong frontcourt returning and a solid recruiting class coming to campus, Jones could lead the Bulls to the NCAA Tournament, something USF fell just short of this spring by reaching the Postseason NIT.
At the same time, a strong workout Friday could reinforce the confidence Jones had in declaring for the draft -- as many underclassmen as there were that declared for the draft, many others could be pulling their names out this week. Even his father admitted he isn't sure which direction his son will choose.
"I'm kind of on eggshells myself," he said.
(UPDATE: Hoopsworld.com, an NBA site, reported via Twitter on Tuesday night that Jones is working out with the Celtics, and cites a source close to him in reporting that he won't be returning for his senior year.)