Mason Jones recently all but shut the door on coming back to college when he hired an agent. Could Isaiah Joe be next?
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?
The NBA has two rounds of picks, which means that 64 guys will be selected to be on NBA teams. According to a CBS Sports mock draft from April, this is where Arkansas’ guys would go:
—Isaiah Joe: 41
—Mason Jones: 69
Joe is ahead of Jones in all the major mock drafts, usually in the mid second round. For instance, Joe is rated at No. 40, No. 44 and No. 57 by Sports Illustrated, The Athletic and ESPN, respectively. Those same outlets have Jones at No. 77, No. 72 and unrated.
Indeed, most mocks leave Mason Jones out.
It’s kinda hard to believe that Jones would be projected lower than Joe, but NBA executives draft on potential and they obviously see more upside in Joe. Still, it’s difficult to believe that the SEC co-Player of the Year would be projected outside the top 64 picks.
Let’s take a look at each player.
According to Coach Muss, Jones was in the gym every morning at 6:00 a.m last summer working on his game. The result of that was an incredible year where he averaged 22 points per game. That’s up there with Todd Day, Sidney Moncrief and Joe Kleine for a single season average. He scored 30 or more in 9 games (2 of those over 40) and, his 5.5 rebounds per game is up there with other great guards at Arkansas and better than most.
As the projected 69th overall pick, the likely a big reason he entered the draft is probably because last season would be very difficult to duplicate. If he came back and averaged 16 or 17 and maybe 4 rebounds per game, plus put another year of wear and tear on his body, his draft stock would likely drop even further next year.
ESPN has the Hog recruiting class at No. 5, the highest it’s been rated since Al Jefferson signed with Arkansas in 2004. So, with the talent coming in it’s likely that Jones won’t be on the floor as much — and definitely won’t get as many shots — to put up those kinds of numbers. He could be making the right decision.
Isaiah Joe’s jumper is as pure as the driven snow. He may have only averaged 16.9 per game this year, but he led the team and the SEC in 3-pointers with 94. In fact, he hit nine more 3s than the second place 3-point shooter John Petty, Jr. from Alabama. It was a whopping 26 more than Mason Jones who ranked a very respectable 6th in the league. And, it’s clear that Joe already has NBA range. Other teams should start guarding him when he gets off the bus. And, let’s not forget that he did all that while missing six games.
Plus, he’s also good on defense and he’s not afraid to mix it up inside for rebounds. You can see all those attributes, and how they would apply to the NBA, clearly laid out here:
Having said and seen all that, Isaiah should come back. He can have a better season. With the big men coming in, he’s going to have open looks all day long and could easily hit well over 100 3s, which he almost certainly would have done this year if he hadn’t been injured.
Plus, getting a little bigger, stronger and more explosive never hurt anyone in the NBA Draft. Unlike Jones, his draft prospects have the potential to rise.
HERE’S THE DEAL:
This is not a question of choosing between getting a college degree or signing a multi-million dollar contract. It’s a question of whether they want to probably play in a developmental league for $70,000+ per year and work their way into big league.
Razorback baseball coach Dave Van Horn councils his players to stay at the college level for a while because the first contract you get will be higher than if you come out early. This being said, in the NBA, it’s the second contract that counts. If your first one is higher by coming out later, then your second one will be higher yet.
The critical thing in all of this is that Joe doesn’t hire an agent — or if does, that it’s an NBA approved agent so that he does have an out if he still wants to come back. (Yes, Jones’ agent Richie Felder is NBA approved, so he could technically return if he changes his mind.)
There’s little question that Coach Muss has provided this kind of counsel to both Jones and Joe. They’ll be wise to take it.
That’s my story and I’m sticking with it…