Jones hopeful as Draft Day approaches

He tries to stay away from the newspapers, going online, or watching the draft shows on telelvision. Bobby Jones has his hopes up high enough already without the rumor mill bringing them crashing to a halt like an Otis George screen. For the recently graduated Husky, life is now about going back to square one.

If it looks like Jones sometimes leans to one side, it's just to balance the chip on his shoulder that he's had on the basketball court since Day One. "I've been using it ever since I started playing basketball, because I've always been underestimated," Jones told this week. "You always want to play with a chip on your shoulder, especially when you're trying to show people you can play at the next level or play against good talent day-in and day-out. You need to have that chip on your shoulder just to prove people wrong."

He did it in Seattle as Lorenzo Romar's very first recruit, despite the fact that he used to play on teams that featured such talent as Tyson Chandler and Tayshaun Prince. He knows what it takes to compete at the highest levels; he's helped take a Washington program out of the cellar and into the lofty environs of two back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances. He did it his senior year while suffering through a foot injury that never quite healed until the end of the season. He did it all while hearing the muffled remarks about playing second fiddle to All-American Brandon Roy.

And he's prepared to do it all over again in the Show.

"You have to have different guys help put a team together to win," Jones said. "I think I'm the best in the country when it comes to the little things and bringing energy every game and playing like there's no tomorrow. And I think people are starting to realize that I'm not a liability. I'm just slowly moving up in people's minds about where I can get drafted. I'm pretty satisfied right now, but I can always keep moving up."

The second round of the 2006 NBA Draft, held Wednesday, June 28th, is looking more and more the likely spot for Jones to land. But it's nowhere near a guarantee. "I think I'm somewhere in the second round, but I'm always trying to move up into that first round with the guaranteed money," Jones said. "If I continue to do what I do and play the way I know how I can play, there's no way I should go undrafted. What I bring to the table not a lot of people bring. So far what I've been hearing from coaches and my agent, a lot of people think I'm the best perimeter defender coming up in the draft. You can't have too many perimeter defenders in the NBA." had this to say about Jones' recent work at the Orlando NBA camp: "Bruce Bowen was no better entering the NBA and made his way with defense which is exactly what Jones brings. As one of the top defenders in the draft, Jones stands an excellent chance of getting drafted. Jones played solid showing his strength and athleticism in transition."

Not exactly new news in the world of those that know Jones best, but still a very positive endorsement. "I like to think about those things, because that means you're in the league," he said when asked if he ever catches himself daydreaming about meeting up with old friends, like Nate Robinson, in the cozy confines of Madison Square Garden. "It brings up your competitiveness, because you don't want them to get the better of you. I'm just happy to be talking about being there, because there are a lot of guys just hoping to get a workout or hoping to get into one of the draft camps."

Romar, along with UW assistants Jim Shaw and Paul Fortier, happened to be watching Jones in Orlando. For Romar, losing a graduating senior is not like kicking a high schooler out of the nest on their way to college. The education continues. "They care about me and I care about them," Jones said about his relationship with Romar and staff. "I have no problem asking them for advice. They've been giving me advice for the past four years, and that's not going to stop just because the season is over. They still know my game better than anybody, so I'll always take into consideration what they have to say. They are still my coaches and I'll still believe in whatever they tell me. That's probably never going to change."

For Jones, who graduated this past weekend with his degree, he'll shuffle back and forth between Seattle and Los Angeles for the time being, working out with teammates old and new, and also getting himself ready for that last Wednesday in June. It's an interesting position for Jones, who - up until now - has always had a team that he could always put in front of himself. For now, he'll simply have to wait, work out, and bide his time.

Some of that time is spent in open run at Hec Ed, where he shared his thoughts on the 2006-2007 UW hoops team. "Everybody is going to step up, that's how it is when you lose seniors and you gain freshmen and transfers," he said. "But if I had to just pick one person that's going to have to step up for the whole team, it's either going to have to be Jon (Brockman) or JD (Justin Dentmon). They did a lot of good things this past year being freshmen. I think people were surprised how fast they came along. Now there's going to be more expectations for them to do better. It's their team, but they are only sophomores. That's good pressure, but it's still pressure. Their work habits are very good. They've been working really hard this spring and I'm sure they'll keep it up during the summer. One of them is going to have to step up into a leadership role and put the team on their backs when it gets tough. It was a learning experience for them, but they were also doing some big-time things. But this next year, they won't have that ''They're young' excuse to fall back on."

Will Spencer Hawes have that 'He's young' excuse? "He's big and skilled and his game is beyond his years," Jones said of the incoming frosh from Seattle Prep. "He knows what his strengths are and he plays them to his advantage. And pickup games don't really show you how it's going to be once the season starts, because you're in a system and there are limitations on what you can do, but he's going to be a big part of the team next year. Offensively, being a leader and being young, it'll be interesting to see how he matures and how he gets used to the pace of the game and the does he respond when they lose a game? That remains to be seen, but I'm confident that they are all meshing pretty good right now. They are all friends before they came to college and that's a great thing to have. They can use it to their benefit." Top Stories