One simple factor will decide whether or not Texas Longhorns freshman guard Andrew Jones remains in the 2017 NBA Draft or returns to Austin for a sophomore season—a first-round grade.
According to a report from the Austin American-Statesman, Jones will follow the path of fellow 2016-17 Longhorn standout Jarrett Allen and remain in the draft if he’s projected as one of the top 30 prospects to be selected.
Texas freshman Andrew Jones said if he received a first-round grade, he would stay in the NBA draft.— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) May 11, 2017
For a variety of reasons, Jones’ pending decision will significantly alter the outlook of the 2017-18 Longhorns’ roster landscape.
After averaging 11.4 points and 3.5 assists per game last season as a former McDonald’s All-American, Jones may quite possibly emerge as the most impactful Longhorn next season, should he elect to return, as a bulk scorer, playmaker and capable wing defender.
Furthermore, the Statesman reported that Jones is hearing rumblings that his decision will play a role in whether or not Texas lands the nation’s No. 2 overall prospect, five-star power forward Mohamed Bamba.
Andrew Jones is luring Mo Bamba: "I’ve heard rumors that my decision to come back to school is going to affect whether he comes to Texas."— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) May 11, 2017
If Jones does return to join a roster that will finally boast experience and a recruiting class that currently ranks No. 6 nationally—one headlined by floor general Matt Coleman—Texas should be a much-improved product next season, lacking only a dominant big man.
Insert Bamba into the mix and Texas suddenly looks like a team that can not only reappear in the NCAA Tournament, but potentially make a deep run, all while providing the Harlem native all the touches he wants.
Jones will have until May 24 to make his final decision and considering his first-round expectations, the draft services indicate he’ll be retuning to Austin next season. Jones can't currently be found in the majority of mock drafts and is absent from the first round in virtually every mock draft available.
Whether he can do something to change that throughout the next week and a half will have a substantial impact on the product Shaka Smart puts on the hardwood during his third season on the Forty Acres.