He stands 6 foot 11, weighs 235 pounds and helped lead Baylor to an Elite Eight appearance at this year’s National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball championship.
Through it all, questions dogged star forward Perry Jones III, who can’t seem to shake his reputation as an underachiever. The 21-year-old has obviously grown weary of the knock, but he has learned to live with it as he showcases his skills to NBA suitors.
Jones landed in Toronto on Thursday as part of the NBA predraft workout tour. He was joined by several other blue-chip prospects as the Toronto Raptors try to figure out whom they will pick with the No. 8 overall selection when the draft takes place June 28 in Newark, N.J.
After banging bodies with forwards Terrence Jones of Kentucky, John Henson of North Carolina and Jared Sullinger of Ohio State, Perry Jones said there’s little he can do to alter the perception of him. Except work hard at these auditions.
“It’s up to them [NBA teams] to take a chance on me and see for themselves,” Jones said. “I can’t satisfy everybody, so if the coaches value the way I play, then that’s good.”
Jones averaged 13.5 points and 7.6 rebounds in 33 games for Baylor, but questions swirl about his lack of aggression and attitude. It was believed he could have contributed more given his athleticism.
“Today he really competed,” said Ed Stefanski, the Raptors’ executive vice-president of basketball operations. “That’s been a question all through his career … about his motor. But he competed great with all of them.”
Sullinger, a tough, physical presence under the basket, where he averaged 9.2 rebounds last season, bristled at the suggestion his draft stock is plummeting because of talk about a bad back.
“My back is fine, nothing wrong with it,” Sullinger said.
Alex Young, a 6-foot-6 swingman out of Northeast High School in Indianapolis, and Toronto guard Tyler Murray, who attended New York’s Wagner College, also participated in the workout.
But most of the attention was on the four big men.
Although the Raptors, who missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season this year, have a lot of holes to fill, they are relatively deep at the power forward spot with Amir Johnson and Ed Davis.
And with the arrival next season of seven-footer Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto’s top pick from a year ago, it would appear that adding depth to the front court would not be a priority.
Stefanski believes the Raptors should just take the best player available, regardless of position.
“When you’re picking eighth in the draft, if you like a guy and he’s a power forward but you think he’s the best player on that board … I think you’ve got to go with what you feel is the best [player],” he said. “You have trades and things like that you can do down the road.”