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Jones underwhelms at NBA Combine. Tomlin and Ellis raise their stocks.

Is now really the time for David Jones to go pro? (Image Credit: Memphis Athletics)
By Roman Cleary - May 17, 2024, 5:06 pm - 1 comments

David Jones has less than two weeks to make a decision.

The 22-year-old forward must decide his plans for next season by May 29. His options are simple—return to Memphis basketball for a second year or remain in the 2024 NBA Draft.

Either choice would significantly alter the Tigers’ 2024-25 campaign. Head coach Penny Hardaway has put together a seven-man transfer portal class in the past two months.

The star-studded group is headlined by 2024 American Athletic Conference (AAC) Freshman of the Year PJ Haggerty (21.2 points per game), sharpshooter Colby Rogers (40.9% from 3-point range on 7.1 tries per game) and former Big 12 Freshman of the Year Tyrese Hunter (11.1 points and 4.1 assists per game). It also features solid frontcourt pieces in Illinois’ Dain Dainja, SMU’s Tyreek Smith and Ole Miss’ Moussa Cisse (who played for Memphis in 2020-21) to go along with George Mason point guard Baraka Okojie. Forward Nick Jourdain is currently the Tigers’ only returning scholarship player.

Jones, who was a finalist for the Julius Erving Award (which goes to the nation’s best small forward) and an Associate Press (AP) All-America Honorable Mention last season, would fill Memphis’ current glaring hole on the wing and possibly propel the Tigers to a preseason AP Top 25 ranking. He averaged 21.8 points (7th in Division I), 7.7 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game while shooting 45.9% from the field and 38% from 3-point range in 2023-24.

If the Dominican Republic native officially opts to turn pro, however, Hardaway will likely have to turn back to the portal to find a possible replacement. But the seventh-year coach may not be too worried after Jones’ underwhelming performances at this week’s NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.

Jones, whose official listed height is 6-foot-6, was measured at just 6-foot-3 1/2 without shoes to start the week. He was also given an average 6-foot-7 wingspan.

He didn’t fare much better when squaring off against his fellow combine attendees, averaging just 6 points and 3.5 rebounds on 30% shooting in his two scrimmage opportunities. Jones’ team lost both games by an average 11 points.

Hardaway told Tigers play-by-play man Dave Woloshin that he still thinks there are “70-30” odds that Jones will return to Memphis during his first public appearance since March at Rotolo’s Craft & Crust in Collierville last week.

”I definitely will be looking forward to [Jones] coming back,” he said.

Former Tigers raise their stocks.

Nae’Qwan Tomlin, a mid-season addition for Memphis last year, did not receive a combine invite like Jones.

The 6-foot-10 forward did perform at last weekend’s NBA G-League Elite Camp, though, where he put up 16 points, 4 rebounds, a block and a steal on 7-for-12 shooting during his second scrimmage. This earned him a call-up to the draft combine, and he averaged 7.5 points and 2.5 rebounds on 50% shooting during his two scrimmages there.

Tomlin (14 points and 6 rebounds per game last season) still projects as an undrafted prospect right now, but the 23-year-old undoubtedly improved his stock this week.

The same can be said for USC guard Boogie Ellis, who began his college career at Memphis. Like Tomlin, the 23-year-old Ellis participated in the G-League Elite Camp before being called up to the combine.

He averaged 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds on 43.8% shooting in his two scrimmage games. The two-time All-Pac-12 player probably won’t be selected in the actual draft, but his chances at earning a two-way contract seem promising after his showings at the combine.


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