Posted by Melanie Curtsinger, Monday, December 17, 2012, 4:45 AM

DeQuan Jones: What You Don't Know

By now, Magic fans probably know the story of DeQuan Jones: he was a little-used four-year player for the Miami Hurricanes who went undrafted, received an invite to play on the Orlando Magic’s summer league team which resulted in a training camp invite, and – as they say – the rest is history.

But what you don’t know about Jones may be even more surprising.

The guard/forward counts himself as “a pretty versatile guy,” stating that reading and cooking are two of his favorite past times. In fact, video games weren’t a part of his everyday arsenal as a kid; instead, his mother, Irene, would have him sit down and read to pass the time.

“My latest book, I read “The Alchemist” – that’s an all-time great,” Jones said. “I just like to read. As a kid, when it was raining outside or I couldn’t go outside and play, my mom always made me read a book. I read all the Harry Potter books, I remember reading Goosebumps books. I just like to read a lot.”

Now that he is an adult, Jones sees the benefits of being a life-long reader even in his current role as a professional athlete.

“Game days, your mental approach, some guys put a lot of pressure on themselves by trying to visualize the game. And a lot of people do a lot of other things to release that stress. They watch television, etc., but nothing frees your mind more than reading. It puts you in a whole other place and it gives you a chance to stretch your intellect.”

Jones wasn’t just a bookworm as a kid, however. His father introduced him to basketball at a young age, and every chance he could get, he would go down the street to the neighborhood park in Stone Mountain, Ga., where he moved when he was a small child, to play basketball with anyone and everyone who would take him on.

“My father is the one that introduced me to basketball,” Jones said. “We would sit around and watch Michael Jordan games. My dad always taught me to give 100 percent in everything I do. Basketball was always a part of me, a part of my personality.”

Jones, who comes from a long line of athletes (both of his grandfathers were All-State in football, baseball and basketball; his mom played volleyball) went on to excel in the sport of basketball, and as he did, he developed a relationship with an older coach, Lawson Bowman, who ultimately helped him make his decision where he would play in college.

“He really took me under his wing and he was like an older figure in my life,” Jones said of Bowman. “I really valued our relationship. He later on passed away my senior year of high school, so he never really got to see me go off to college, but he was my advisor and my mentor and I kind of asked his opinion on where I should go and where was the best fit for me. He told me Miami, and I was sold after that.”

Looking back on his decision to play at Miami, Jones has no regrets. He excelled in academics there, majoring in liberal arts with a minor in political science. And even though he is now playing in the NBA, he still counts his achievements in college as the greatest accomplishments of his life.

“I’m actually the first person in my family to graduate or even go to college,” Jones said. “I always kept that in the back of my mind, my achievements and making it to the NBA, but my greatest achievement will always be being the first one in my family to graduate college. That is just something I hold dear to me."