Kai Jones’ NBA journey will begin in Charlotte, North Carolina and the 6’11” 225 pound frontcourt player made history when he became the third active Bahaman-born player in the league.
Jones was selected No. 19 overall by the New York Knicks but his rights were traded to the Charlotte Hornets for a future first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft hosted last night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
To my new team, I’m going to bring versatility and all-around play from inside and out, and energy all the time. I’m a versatile forward who can score inside and out and defend one through five,” Jones said, “I’m super excited. It’s a huge blessing. Many people from The Bahamas don’t get to be in this position, so I’m really excited, man. I’m super blessed.”
Jones was rumored to go to the Hornets at No.11 pick, prior to the draft, but Charlotte selected James Bouknight, a 6’5” guard out of UConn with that pick. They traded back into the first round with the Knicks to acquire Jones, the team’s second frontcourt acquisition of the night.
The Hornets also acquired veteran center Mason Plumlee and the No.37 pick in a trade for the No.57 overall pick.
Jones, a 6’11” 225 pound player versatile enough to play all three frontcourt positions, is already looking ahead to his new NBA home in Charlotte, led by reigning rookie of the year, point guard LaMelo Ball.
Playing with LaMelo Ball is going to be super dope. He can pass the ball, he’s a good point guard, he can score, seems like a good guy to be around,” Jones said, “When I went to workouts [with the Hornets] the first time, it was really good. I got to show them just my all-around game, hitting threes, a really good workout. I showed them what I could do. Then that second workout, when they brought me back again, that was one of the best workouts I had during the pre-draft process. I went super hard. I knew it was my last workout. I really gave it my all, shot the ball really well, got to show my handling ability and athleticism. So it was really good. I had a really good workout with them.
In his sophomore season with the Texas Longhorns, Jones averaged 8.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He shot 57 percent from the field and 39 percent from three point range. His standout season was recognised by the Big 12. He was named the conference’s Sixth Man of the Year and became the first Texas Longhorns player in programme history to earn the award.
Jones was tied for second on the team in blocks (19), tied for third in rebounding (4.8 rebounds per game), fourth in steals (22), and sixth in scoring (8.5 points per game) while averaging 22.7 minutes per game. He has hit 56.5-percent from the field (70-124), including a 36.7-percent mark (11-30) from three-point range, and has reached double figures in scoring 10 times in his first 23 games.
Jones recalled his Texas lineage and explained how he thinks it benefits him on both ends of the floor.
“It’s a blessing. The University of Texas is a first-class school. We work really hard there. Coach has held us bigs to a standard every time we come through. So it’s a huge blessing. I know some of the guys who are already in the NBA. I have a relationship with them. It’s going to be huge for me moving forward, just being able to talk to them about their experiences, learn from them and compete against them, too,” Jones said, “I’m most excited to play against Kevin Durant, seeing that he went to UT. He’s a forward that can really score. I’d like to see what my defense looks like against him.”
Jones’ pink suit was one of the highlights of social media.
“This is a custom-made suit. I got it tailored in L.A. by a company, Elevee,” he said, “The pink is for flamingos, obviously. I like this shirt; it’s silky soft. I have some straw shoes on. And then these cufflinks are custom, too; they’ve got my initials on them. They’re super dope. I love my suit.”
Jones moved to the US following a summer of career milestones in 2017, including his junior national team debut and an invitation to the NBA Basketball Without Borders Americas Camp, hosted in the Bahamas.
A 4.0 student in the classroom, Jones spent a single season at Orlando Christian Prep in Orlando, Florida. He transferred to Brewster Academy in Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire and was also invited to the NBA’s Global Camp in Treviso, Italy, where he made an impression on some of the most notable names in the industry. Jones headed to Texas as a consensus four star recruit.