One week ago, Mark Jones was living in Birch Run, Michigan, anxiously awaiting the decisive game five of the first round of the CBA playoffs with his teammates from the Great Lakes Storm.

What a difference a week can make.

Fast forward seven days later, and Jones now finds himself on an NBA roster for the first time, albeit in the same city where he played his senior year of college. It’s a whirlwind that few can relate to, but one that Jones has welcomed with open arms.

“My agent called me and said, ‘Mark, Orlando is going to bring you in. It’s pretty much a done deal and I’ll call you back with the flight information.’ He called me back and said it’s done, go in and take your physical. I was like, ‘wow,’ because game five of the best of five series was the next day. My team wasn’t happy and my coach wasn’t happy, but they were happy for me personally. I was definitely excited.”

Leaving his team in this midst of a postseason run may have been a bit difficult for him to muster, but the fact that Jones was returning to Orlando made the transition for him a lot easier.

“The playoffs were going on, but it was cool,” Jones, who was fourth in the league in scoring with an average of 20.8 points per game, said. “I was very happy because, personally, I thought I was getting a call-up earlier in the season because I had been playing really well and a lot of teams were interested and talking to my agent. So when I actually got a call-up, I was surprised that it was Orlando, because this isn’t really one of the teams I expected to call me up. I played at UCF, so I was like, ‘wow, this is a huge surprise,’ but at the same time, I was definitely happy about it.”

Although signing with the Magic may have been a surprise to him, it probably didn’t come as much of a shock to his fans that followed him here at Central Florida. His growth as a player really blossomed during his senior year at UCF, where he led the entire Atlantic Sun Conference and ranked 29th in the nation in scoring with 20.8 points per contest (along with 7.3 rebounds per game). Jones also had two successful years at Anderson (SC) Junior College and one at the University of Michigan before transferring to the Golden Knights for his last season of collegiate basketball.

“I have been here so long – I used to come to the Magic games and check them out,” Jones said. “I always said that one day I would be playing on this floor. I didn’t know it would be in a Magic uniform, but I figured one day I would be playing here. It’s kind of weird (how it all worked out). A lot of UCF supporters and Orlando fans that followed me, and media people that followed me when I was at UCF playing – I get a lot of fans here and they are very supportive. I came out of the game last night (against Atlanta) and I heard a lot of people cheering for me.”

Those UCF followers could have been cheering on his 20-minute, four-point effort against the Hawks, but he has undoubtedly made some new fans with his energetic, defensive-oriented style of play.

“(The coaches) just told me to play aggressive – play defense, rebound the basketball, give some energy. If I have a shot, step up, take it and knock it down – that’s what they want from me. I’ve done that before, and I’m trying to do that here. We have a talented team with Grant Hill, Steve Francis and Dwight Howard, so my job isn’t to come here and try and be a star, it’s to be solid and whenever I am on the court to contribute, and that’s what I tried to do last night (against Atlanta) – bring some energy, play tough defense, and try and get us as many wins as we can.”

“My main objective is not to go out and score points, my objective is to help this team win basketball games and do whatever I can to help them win basketball games.”

If the Magic can continue to win like they did Monday against the Hawks and stay in the race for the playoffs, Jones says he won’t worry about his short-term deal or what lies ahead for him in the coming weeks.

“I don’t really go into the situation worrying or thinking about my 10-day contract,” Jones said. “I know I am an NBA player, and I just try to do the best I can every time I step on the floor, because I am showcasing myself for Orlando and for other teams in the NBA. I am just trying to be solid and bring that energy, do the best I can and not worry about the contract situation because I don’t control that.”

Jones may not have control over his future with the Magic, but he will forever be grateful to Orlando for giving him his first shot as an NBA player.

“It’s been a great experience. The coaches have been great, the players have been great. I’m learning what the coaches want from me, working hard every day, and continuing to grow as a player. I am really thankful to the front office, especially John Weisbrod for bringing me in and giving me an opportunity, because that’s all you really need is an opportunity.”

Melanie Curtsinger is an intern in the Magic's Communications department.