Jones taking steps for NBA draft

Joseph Jones tested the NBA draft waters this offseason and now he knows what he needs to work on. Aggie Websider's Dallas Shipp visited with Jones in an exclusive interview about his preparations for his senior season and what he's working on to impress the pro scouts this year.

Two years ago, Sports Illustrated took a poll of post players in the Big 12 to find out who the most physical player in the conference was. Who did they not like to play against? Who made them sore the next day? The answer might have surprised many people outside of the conference—Joseph Jones.

The 6-foot-9 "Pride of Normangee, Texas" is known for his physical style of play in the paint, which is also the main reason he has routinely found himself in foul trouble. But that physical style is also one of the things that intrigues so many NBA scouts.

Jones tested the NBA draft waters during the offseason, working out in Houston with former NBA head coach John Lucas, alongside former Aggie teammate Acie Law IV—the highest drafted player in A&M basketball history.

Law was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, but Jones elected to return to A&M for his senior season and work on things that scouts told him would improve his draft status in 2008.

"I've got to be more consistent, stay healthy and run the court, that's one of the big things about me, my running," Jones said. "I changed my whole running style and try to get out quicker."

While he's got the physical part down, Jones is not the most graceful athlete running down the basketball court. But he's working on that, and he's got help from one of the best sprint coaches in America—Texas A&M track and field coach Pat Henry.

After looking at film of Jones running down court, it didn't take Henry long to find the hitch in Jones' giddy-up. Henry said that Jones tends to turn his feet to the outside, which puts him in a position that makes it hard for him to accelerate into a sprint. But Henry added that Jones has the natural talent, he just needs to work on technique.

"Learning how to use everything that he has is the first thing he needs to do," Henry said. "Right now he gets to positions that I see from looking at tape, that he can't really explode out of. Explosion is key to being able to sprint and get down the basketball court. We know he has great (natural) explosion because he can leave the floor and if he can leave the floor like that, he ought to be able to get down the floor better."

But improved speed up and down the court isn't the only benefit that Jones could see.

He's struggled over the past two seasons with pain in his knees from tendonitis—something that he always has and always will have to deal with. And while neither Henry nor Jones knows how big of an impact it will have, the new technique should also help reduce that pain that Jones has to play through.

"Your body is made to run in a straight line," Henry said. "If you just sit where you are and turn your foot to the side as far as you can turn it and keep your knee still, more than likely you can feel that in your knee area and maybe in the calf a little bit. You want to eliminate those odd positions that put stress on areas that you don't want to put stress on. Also, anytime your foot goes sideways, you're going to go sideways. We want everything to go in a straight line."

And because of Jones' leadership and intense work ethic, running straight down the court may not be the only line that Jones walks. If he has the season that he's capable of in an absolutely loaded A&M front court, Jones could move straight up the charts of NBA general managers' wish list, and no one deserves it more than Jones, who is one of the hardest-working Aggie athletes on and off the court.

"He's got a great attitude about it and he wants to be better—he wants to be good," Henry said. "I only got to spend a little bit of time with him, but I'd like to spend more time with him. I like to spend time with guys who want to work hard."

Some of those guys, like Indianapolis Colts running back Joseph Addai, make up a pretty distinguished list of professional athletes that Henry has worked with in the past.

Jones is hoping to add his name to that list.

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