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Late-blooming rookie bounces quickly to pros

Kavon Jones has taken an unconventional route to professional basketball.

Kavon Jones has taken an unconventional route to professional basketball.

While most of his peers with the Halifax Rainmen have been on the court day-in and day-out for as long as they can remember, Jones didn’t even suit up for his high school team, nor did he play his first game of organized basketball until he was 19.

“I played basketball when I was younger — just pickup games with friends — but I didn’t take it seriously until 12th grade,” Jones said. “Some people thought it was late … but I think I’m talented, I think I have a gift, and I’m just trying to use it.”

The six-foot-seven, 240-pound forward from Brooklyn, N.Y., quietly established himself on the street-ball circuit in his late teens and became so dominant he caught the eyes of National Junior College Athletic Association scouts.

“He came out of nowhere,” recalled Rainmen owner Andre Levingston. “Everybody was saying, ‘Who is this kid?’ when he came onto the scene in New York.”

He didn’t disappoint in two seasons at the NJCAA level, averaging 17.4 points and 11 rebounds before moving on to the NAIA level at Oklahoma City University last season, earning an all-conference honourable mention with averages of 14.4 points and 8.3 rebounds.

But Jones said he “really wasn’t digging the school thing,” so he jumped at the chance to join the Rainmen.

Already nicknamed “the street assassin” by his teammates, Jones made a favourable impression on the Rainmen’s brass when he dropped a team-high 20 points in his pre-season debut last Friday. His ball-handling on the perimeter and footwork down low have earned rave reviews.

Although Jones is a good bet to come off the bench this season, he already has a contract and his basketball skills will translate into a paycheque for the first time in his life — and that suits him just fine.

“This is a really, really big opportunity,” Jones said.

“I’m trying to take it all in and take basketball as far as it will take me.”

 
 
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