Grade jumper: Maccabi Tel Aviv takes a bet with Chris Jones


The Maccabi Tel Aviv shopping list is like a fraternity club in a college in the United States: it is very difficult to get into it, and once you are inside, it is very difficult to get out. The scouting department of Maccabi Tel Aviv, headed by Avi Even, has been operating in a slightly different way since Yannis Sapropoulos took office, so the list also became much tighter. Therefore, as soon as Sapropolus wanted the Chris Jones (27, 1.88) As a replacement for Nate Walters, even before the Jackson closet, it was clear that this name would not disappear so quickly from the Excel file.

The Jones deal was soon closed, when he gave his consent within a few hours of the offer, after which the group set out to try to lower the buyout amount to be paid to his former Turkish team, Bursaspor. Jones will step into Nate Walters’ shoes as a quarterback to play alongside Scotty Wilbkin. His signing symbolizes Maccabi’s attempt to return to a formula that has worked for it quite a bit in the past: to locate anonymous players and try to rise up with them. After all, when was the last time a player came to Israel to play in Mongolia?

Decline for an increase
Chris Jones’ story is unconventional from every angle and from every direction. Not many players play successfully at Division 1 College for three years and then move to a small Division 2 college for the senior year, but that’s what Jones did. He played at North Texas College from 2011-2014, then decided to move to Angelo State College. The reason: the college replaced the coach in the middle of his sophomore season, and Jones was unsure of his status. The following season, Jones was not involved in 16 games, realizing he needed a change. The decision to move to the sub-league was made mainly because he did not want to go through a cooling-off year, according to NCAA rules in the transition between colleges in Division 1.

With him, Angelo State recorded its best ever season opener, with a 1:18 record, with Jones scoring nearly 15 points, more than 5 assists and nearly 3 steals per game. When the coach Chris Hail “He is one of the most humble and selfless players I have ever coached,” he said in an interview with the college website upon Jones’ departure for a professional career. “He is a winner, very talented, wants and demands to be coached tough.”

“There is pressure to support the family”
Jones grew up in Garland, Texas, with a single-parent family. His father abandoned the house when he was a child, and his mother La Tonia raised him alone. He is the eldest brother to another brother and sister. “Most people who grow up without a father use it as an excuse,” Jones said in a 2015 interview, “but for me my mother is everything to me and she motivated me to be a better person, she was always there for me. We never lacked for anything, I remember maybe once we were cut off because we were late paying the bill, but that’s all. To some extent I feel like the father in the family because I started a certain career and I want to be able to support my family. There is pressure on that, I will not lie. ”

Jones initially wanted to be a football player, but then made the switch to basketball. ‘The truth is, basketball is my second love. I have always preferred football but I do not like to be outside so much, I hate the sun, and because I have always had a ball in hand I decided to choose basketball. At the end of the road I want to be a coach. I think relative to my age I know a lot of basketball, more than other guys my age. I know a lot but not in a section where new things can not be taught to me. That’s why I want to be a coach and help the kids progress the way the coaches I had helped me. ‘

From Mongolia for $ 500 in Switzerland
“Chris Jones has one of the craziest stories I’ve ever heard,” he says Ismail Sniol“Because he finished his college career in Division 2, he had a hard time screwing around at the high levels, so he went to play in Mongolia (in the ‘Ajmag Tov’ team). He spent a season there, and then he moved to the Swiss league, to Basel, and he earned $ 500 a month there, that’s all. He then made some progress to Belgium, where he played for Mons for two years, then came to Turkey. ‘

According to Scout reports, Jones is a natural coordinator who “thinks delivery” but has suspicious marksmanship. “Chris is an old-school coordinator, the kind that coaches love,” says Sniol. He has excellent decision-making ability and can also take on the role of leader. He’s a good pick-and-roll player and I think his combination with Othello Hunter would be good for both of them. ‘

However, Jones’ leap from the Turkish league to the Euroleague shows that it is a huge gamble for Maccabi. The only European setting in which Jones has played is the European Cup, for 18 games in the Belgian Mons uniform. “I think it would have been more appropriate for him to play one more year in the Eurocup,” Sniol said. I think Maccabi took a bet here, but I think it’s a good bet. “


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