Within days of five-star power forward Mohamed Bamba penning his commitment to Shaka Smart and the Texas Longhorns, former McDonald’s All-American combo guard Andrew Jones announced he’ll withdraw from the NBA Draft and return to Austin for his sophomore season.
"I really enjoyed the experience, and I believe I got the most out of being able to play against top competition throughout this process," Jones said in a statement released by the school. "I would like to thank the NBA executives for allowing me to workout for them and participate in the combine. I feel that I learned a lot and hope to carry that over into my sophomore season."
For obvious reasons, Jones’ decision to return to Texas now considerably bolsters the outlook of Smart’s 2017-18 roster.
Along with a No. 4-ranked freshman class headlined by Bamba and four-star point guard Matt Coleman, Jones’ return provides Texas with its third-leading scorer from 2016-17 and the only returning player to average double-digit points per game (11.4). With Coleman set to orchestrate the offense, Jones should be able to shoulder a heightened scoring load as he primarily plays off the ball next season and help account for the losses of Jarrett Allen (13.4 ppg) and Tevin Mack (14.8 ppg).
"Andrew has taken a mature approach to gathering feedback from NBA teams about areas where he can continue to grow," Smart said. "His work ethic has been terrific, and he is highly motivated to develop and help his team win. Our coaching staff is very excited to help him continue to move forward, on and off the court.
An athletic, two-way scoring guard, it’s possible Jones emerges as the Longhorns alpha dog as a sophomore — he displayed flashes of this as a freshman — especially after spending a considerable portion of his offseason focusing on player development in preparation for the NBA Draft.
Pairing him with Bamba, Coleman and a host of of quality incoming freshman and an entire rotation of returners, should help substantially improve the product we see on the hardwood at the Frank Erwin Center next season from the unit that won just 11 games in 2016-17.
Jones’ decision to return to Texas largely hinged on a first-round promise, which he wasn’t able to attain. DraftExpress currently expects that to become the case in 2018, though, as Jones is slotted at No. 20 on the best available list.