‘I belong’: After NBA combine, Weber State’s Dillon Jones will let draft process play out
Dillon Jones was, in terms of NBA basketball, a relative unknown headed into what has turned into more than a week in Chicago.
The Weber State star forward was a replacement call for the NBA G League Elite Camp, then played so well that he was one of eight players invited to stay for the larger NBA Draft Combine.
In the end, Jones says, he played like he always has. It was just in front of new sets of eyes.
“I think I showed that when I’m in a room or on the floor with high-level players that I belong in a group, in a room like that,” Jones told the Standard-Examiner. “The way I was playing, I was just doing everything I’ve done this past year, just on a bigger stage. People just see it differently … in my head, I’m not that surprised. I just have that internal confidence that I belong on the floor with guys like that.”
In two games at the G League Elite Camp, Jones totaled 24 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, six steals and three turnovers while shooting 43% from the field, turning in an overall plus-minus of plus-17 in 36 minutes on the court.
In two NBA Draft Combine games, Jones tallied 22 points, four rebounds, eight assists, three steals and five turnovers while shooting 5 of 14 from the field and 11 of 12 at the foul line in 40 minutes.
He’s spent nearly a week in Chicago to work out, play in the scrimmages and interview with NBA scouts or front-office executives. Jones said most people, interacting with him for the first time, were just getting a feel for who he is. He’ll be there through the weekend for a few more evaluations before returning to Utah.
Then, it’s time to see what NBA teams had to say. A lot of that detailed feedback will come in the next few days as his agent, Aaron Reilly, compiles notes to review with Jones. He has at least two more workouts with NBA teams already scheduled (the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies), plus the possibility of more as time permits.
Time is a factor because the deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft and return to school is June 1. One of his workouts is scheduled for May 31.
“So we’re going right to the buzzer,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of components, variables, different scenarios that could play out with it.”
Sarah Todd of the Deseret News, who was in Chicago for the combine, reports that the consensus among NBA representatives she spoke with was that Jones should return to school for another year. Jones’ retort was he only needs one team, not all 30, to like him because the original consensus for these NBA camps was that he shouldn’t be there.
Aside from that, Jones says he doesn’t have set criteria for how to make his decision to stay in the draft or return to Weber State. (Transferring is still not on the table.) He needs more information first, and then he’ll examine it.
“If someone was like ‘were going to take you in the first round,’ everyone would tell me to stay,” he said. “But I don’t think that’s the current situation. If there’s something crazy I can’t turn down, then obviously. After that, it’s just weighing the pros and cons.
“I’m not predetermining anything because I don’t really have all the information, so I’m not looking too far ahead. I don’t know how the land lays right now.”
As has been the case for previous early entrants, Weber State’s coaching staff wants the best for Jones, whatever that ends up being. Head coach Eric Duft flew to Chicago to watch Jones in combine workouts.
For Jones, he feels like he’s set himself up with something of a win-win.
“I’m just grateful for the opportunity. I have all the support — from Weber, the people around me, all that just giving me confidence. I have all these people who want the best for me and there’s not really any pressure for me,” Jones said. “I’ve got a good situation, whether it’s pursue something I can’t turn down or go back to school and push for a championship. I’ve set myself in a good situation and have that support from everybody.”