KJ signs with Cavaliers as undrafted free agent
Published: Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 09:07
After going undrafted in Thursday night’s NBA draft, it didn’t take long before former West Virginia forward Kevin Jones found a landing spot as a free agent.
According to his agent, Bill Neff, Jones has a "multi-year commitment with some money up front," to become a Cleveland Cavalier next season. He will play on Cleveland’s summer league team and have the chance to make the NBA team or play for the Cavaliers’ Developmental League team, the Canton Charge.
"Cleveland has a history of trying to do this," Neff said to The Daily Athenaeum Monday. "They’ve tried to develop young guys who weren’t drafted or were picked at the end of the second round and turn them into rotation guys. They called us twice before the draft to interview down there, but he wasn’t able to make it there both times, and they still wanted him. Based on that, we felt it was the best place for him to go."
The Cavaliers were the first team to contact Neff about Jones after the draft and the other team Jones was considering was the Charlotte Bobcats.
Heading into the draft, Neff told Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv a team had committed to drafting Jones in the first round or early part of the second round.
"At the end of the day, he’s going to have to go out and beat somebody out to make a team — and I’m confident Kevin can do that," Neff said after the draft. "Kevin’s just going to have to show teams that he’s a monster, and he’s done it before when people don’t think he can do it."
Neff said a blueprint has been set for players like Jones, who have gone undrafted but want to have successful careers in the NBA.
Ben Wallace and Udonis Haslem weren’t taken in the draft, but became key contributors on teams that won NBA titles.
Another low-post player, Brad Miller, became a two-time NBA all-star.
So, there’s evidence Jones has a chance to be successful in the league as long as he’s willing to work hard enough to get there.
Neff doesn’t think that will be a problem.
"You’ve got to make a team first, then you’ve got to find a way to hang around the league for a while so that when you finally get your chance you can hit it out of the park," Neff said. "That’s how you get into this league when you aren’t one of those chosen 30 in the first round."
Being overlooked is nothing new for Jones.
Before he came to WVU, people didn’t know how successful he would be because of his athleticism and how he stacked up in comparison to some of the other highly touted players. But at the NBA level it comes down to the players who will be able to contribute and produce.
"Even if you’re a second-round pick, you have to produce, or you’re not going to make it," Neff said. "I remember when he was in high school, Kevin was kind of the ugly duckling and colleges didn’t want him, and it happened again when he went through the draft process.
"I’d bet on him to succeed though. He’s been told all his life he wasn’t going to be good enough, and he’s proven everyone wrong every chance he’s had to do it."