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Scott Howard-Cooper

Arnett Moultrie, after connecting with Monty Williams, hopes the Hornets select him at No. 10.
Arnett Moultrie, after connecting with Monty Williams, hopes the Hornets select him at No. 10.

Baylor's Jones progressing; Moultrie hoping to land in N.O.

Posted Jun 16 2012 12:51PM

Duncanville, Texas, just south of Dallas, is home. That is where Perry Jones III, as a senior at Duncanville High School who would make several All-America teams and become the focus of recruiting interest around the country, caught his first rocket ride to stardom.

Waco, Texas, some 90 miles away, is where he became a possible lottery pick. Baylor went 30-8 last season and reached the Elite Eight as sophomore Jones was named honorable mention All-America, showing flashes of the versatility at a lanky 6-foot-11 that has drawn comparisons to Lamar Odom, albeit with the inconsistent play that framed his college career.

Santa Barbara, Calif., though, is where he found his NBA direction. Of all places. On a particularly beautiful stretch of California coast, far from his roots and, Jones has come to believe, far from his biggest problem heading into the June 28 draft.

Working out there with several other prospects -- Marcus Denmon, Tony Mitchell, Jeff Taylor, John Jenkins, Festus Ezeli, Orlando Johnson, Drew Gordon -- after the season and before the current tour of team workouts, Jones noticed progress. He felt himself keeping up on defense with quicker players and acquired a shooting rhythm like never before.

Oh, and he learned he has a confidence problem.

"I had a confidence problem," Jones corrected.

Right. Had.

"I don't think I have one anymore," he said. "I've been working out and seeing stuff that I'm capable of doing. Actually seeing the potential that I have is making my confidence level rise."

NBA executives and scouts left Baylor games questioning Jones' heart and whether he truly loved basketball, as opposed to playing just because everyone told him he should with that size and that skill. In the Santa Barbara workouts, he determined, it wasn't a passion thing. It was getting down after stringing together a couple missed shots, hanging his head following a turnover.

The quest in the team auditions, then, has been to show decision makers the new Perry Jones III, while acknowledging that he does have a reputation to live down.

"It was definitely a problem in college," he said. "I didn't have a motor. I think I have a motor now because of my confidence level."

The second half of the lottery remains the likely landing spot.

Elsewhere heading into the final full week before the draft:

Washington guard Tony Wroten worked out daily with Brandon Roy in Seattle, the hometown for both, before beginning a tour of teams and talks to the former Trail Blazers guard most every day. Six months after being forced into retirement by a knee injury, Roy, Wroten said, "dominates. I'm a good defender, I feel like, but, man, it's a little hard to stop him. He just gets to his spots. We're going to see. His knee looks great, though."

Wroten is encouraging his friend to try a comeback. "I hope so," said Wroten, who will probably be selected late in the first round but could drop early into the second. "We've just got to wait and see. I tell him, 'If it was up to me, you'll come back.' He just jokes around with me. He says, 'Maybe.' "

Arnett Moultrie, so enthusiastic about the connection he made with coach Monty Williams at the Hornets workout, is openly rooting for New Orleans to take him at No. 10. One of the obvious questions/reasons it may not happen: Would they take Moultrie, the Mississippi State power forward, and Anthony Davis in the same lottery.

"That's funny you asked me that because they [the Hornets] asked me that at the workout," Moultrie said. "I think we complement each other very well. We have two similar games. We're both athletic. He does one thing better than me, and that's block shots."

So much size, so little chance. The NBA is showing passing interest at best in Dusan Cantekin, even though he is 7-foot-4, 245 pounds and is coordinated with good mobility, even though, if it hasn't been mentioned, he is 7-foot-4.

A member of the Turkish national team, Cantekin needs to get a lot stronger, has a very small wingspan (6-foot-11) and was barely noticeable at the adidas Eurocamp in Italy earlier this week despite facing competition that mostly won't come close to the NBA. But that ability to move at that size makes him a potential investment.

"He's a kid you really want to like, but there are too many question marks," said one NBA rep who scouted Eurocamp. "Even a mid-to-late second-round pick could be very risky."

• North Carolina power forward John Henson said an ankle injury is to blame for bad results on some of the physical testing at the Chicago pre-draft camp. "It's not 100 percent," he said after working out for Golden State on Thursday. "But I don't have time to sit down and rest it. These two weeks are crucial in my career. Regardless of how it feels, I've got to go." He left Oakland for Phoenix and after that was scheduled for visits with the Rockets, Bucks, Cavaliers, Raptors, Pistons and 76ers.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

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