Expect Perry Jones to join shallow draft class

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No one’s really excited about the 2011 NBA Draft. It’s not a great class at its best, especially when compared to what the 2012 class of freshmen will look like, but the lockout is the real issue. Though there’s a small chance the drafted class may fall under the current rookie scale versus a revamped, further reduced version in the new CBA, there’s a lockout coming, which means those players could be stranded without pay for quite a while.  The result is that several top picks could elect to return to their respective universities for their sophomore seasons, enjoy the college pay life for another year, then enter the 2012 draft. But one top pick is reportedly going to go ahead and enter the draft, even under a cloud of investigation.

Perry Jones of Baylor was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for improper benefits earlier this week, keeping him out of the Big 12 tournament and likely for any postseason tournament. (The Bears seem to be a lock for the NIT after getting blasted by Oklahoma in the Big 12 Tournament without Jones.) Yahoo! Sports reported Friday that Jones is likely to go ahead and declare for the 2011 draft, where he’s considered a top-5 pick by most sites and scouts.

It’s not like getting nailed by the NCAA is any sort of problem for NBA scouts. Most are either involved in similar situations of improper benefits, or don’t care, because, let’s face it, the whole system is patently ridiculous. Jones, for example, had his biggest violation be three mortgage payments provided by, you guessed it, an AAU coach to his mother when he was in high school, which Jones’ mother repaid. That plus a trip to see an NFL game was enough to get Jones tagged by this absurd system that simultaneously exploits and chastises players for threatening to gain any benefit from their status as players. The NBA, on the other hand, will simply look at Jones’ game, and make their evaluation from there. It won’t affect his draft status one way or another.

Jones has nice touch around the basket, a solid righty hook, and decent footwork. He needs to work on his footwork, defensive awareness, and all the other things most rookie bigmen need to, but at 6-11, 225 lbs., he’s got the tangibles to keep him in the top five. For so many teams looking to upgrade in size in the top of the draft, Jones could be a huge catch. The NCAA just cemented his availability.