Twice Spurned, Canton's Kevin Jones Starts NBA D-League Career on a Rampage

The runner-up for Big East Player of the Year opened the season with back-to-back big double-doubles.

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Kevin Jones is on fire.

Just two games into his professional basketball career, the 6-foot-8 forward for the Canton Charge has been tearing it up in the NBA D-League. He started off the weekend on Friday going for 26 points and 14 rebounds for the Charge, only to one-up his debut with 31 points and 16 rebounds a night later.

Jones, who many felt should have been the Big East Player of the Year in 2011-12, credits his double-doubles to his determination to stay aggressive on the floor every second of the game. The guy who became one of only three players in history to lead the Big East in scoring and rebounds says that he knows it's not the first part that'll get him back to the NBA, he said.

"I want to be a consistent force on both ends of the floor," said Jones, who came to the Canton Charge as an Affiliate Player after spending training camp with the Cleveland Cavaliers. "Whether its hitting open shots or grabbing rebounds or playing good defense. More than likely, you're not going to go in and be the team's top scorer coming out of the [NBA D-League], so you want to do other things that you can contribute to NBA teams."

Jones has gone through a series of ups and downs the past few months. This past spring he finished his senior year of at West Virginia Basketball with double-double averages of 19.9 points and 10.9 rebounds a game. He was one of the top rebounders in the nation and finished second in Big East Player of the Year voting.

Then, on NBA Draft night, he went untouched. Scouts said that, at 6-foot-8, he was too short to be a dominant forward in the league. Nevertheless, Jones earned a training camp spot with Cavs before the team waived him in the pre-season.

That's the mistake a lot of guys make coming into the D-League - they come in trying to prove what everybody says they can't do.
Canton Coach Alex Jensen

In his first action since then, Jones has come out of the gate swinging. Even before his scoring and rebounding frenzy this past weekend, he racked up 21 rebounds in a preseason game with the Charge a few days earlier.

Meanwhile, his hot start comes as the Cleveland Cavaliers deal with a litter of injuries and criticism that the team's defensive numbers fall way below their offensive ones. While a number of factors go into every GATORADE Call-Up, Jones said his numbers help him feel better about his chances of getting called up by the Charge's NBA affiliate.

"I was in training camp with them and I played really hard and feel like I left a good impression with them," Jones aid. "So I feel like I have a leg up on the competition. But nothing is guaranteed, so I'm just going to continue to work hard and continue to get better."

Canton Charge head coach Alex Jensen said he's been impressed so far with what Jones has brought to the team, and that to get a true NBA look, Jones just has to keep it up.

"Kevin, I don't think he needs to do a whole lot of things different," he said. "That's the mistake a lot of guys make coming into the D-League - they come in trying to prove what everybody says they can't do."

Jensen emphasized the Cleveland Cavaliers wield the power in calling up players, not him. But continued hard work, Jensen said, is what Jones should focus on to get noticed.

"Kevin is a player, there's no question that he has NBA talent," Jensen said. "He just has to show he can do in the D-League what he did at West Virginia and I think he'll be fine."

So far, he has.