Perry Jones III is the best player in Texas, and a top five NBA draft pick whenever he decides it is time to come out. Not that many people around here pay much attention to college basketball right now, but Baylor is No. 7 in the country and 8-0 after a 69-42 win against Bethune-Cookman on Wednesday night in Waco.
Jones III averages 19.5 points and 6 rebounds per game. Please kill any idea that this guy came to Baylor merely as a brief pitstop before leaving for the NBA; this is a very nice, polite and well-spoken young man that you could easily envision earning his degree in four years if he just wasn't so good at basketball and the check that awaits him is too large to pass up.
The 6-foot-11 sophomore from Duncanville recently sat down with me to talk about his decision to come to Baylor, stay at Baylor, and the NBA.
The Big Mac Blog: Was everybody surprised at your decision to return to Baylor for your sophomore year?
Perry Jones III: Yeah, pretty much everybody. Everybody thought I was leaving but my mom and dad.
The Big Mac Blog: Why come back?
Perry Jones III: I didn't think I was ready yet. I didn't think I was ready for that lifestyle. I wasn't ready to be on my own yet.
The Big Mac Blog: Did you talk to anyone about what that lifestyle is like or was it your gut telling you, 'You're not ready'?
Perry Jones III: My gut. I didn't talk to anybody about it other than my parents about everything. I didn't know where I would end up. It could be in New York, but wherever it was it was nowhere near home.
The Big Mac Blog: Baylor isn't exactly North Carolina or Kansas in basketball tradition, so why come to Baylor in the first place?
Perry Jones III: Besides the distance from home, had to be coach (Scott) Drew. He's trying to build a program here and something I wanted to be a part of it.
The Big Mac Blog: When you picked Baylor did anyone say, 'Why there?'
Perry Jones III: Other than my parents and two or three of my cousins, I didn't get a congratulations from anybody. I got, 'Why Baylor?' I didn't get any congratulations from anybody until they made the run in 2008?
The Big Mac Blog: Why is this place good for you?
Perry Jones III: It's the bond I have with the team. I can do anything with any of these guys off the court. I can hang out with anyone like a family, and the fact my family is an hour away means I can go up there or they can come down here pretty much anytime.
The Big Mac Blog: Scott Drew says you are a big paintball player - is this true?
Perry Jones III: That is true. I'm a big paintball player.
The Big Mac Blog: You have to be the easiest target to ever play this game.
Perry Jones III: Not really. I know how to stop, drop and roll. To play this game I have to get the best gun, one that is fast. If I get a slow gun then I am an easy target. The guns they have no can shoot 90 bullets in a second.
The Big Mac Blog: Do you fight the perception that projected lottery picks are just dumb jocks who have no desire to really pursue their degree?
Perry Jones III: I don't know if I should care about it or not. I do like school. I didn't come here to just get into the NBA or anything like that. I enjoy school and education is important. I don't think about anything about the NBA. Ever since I made my decision to come back I haven't been thinking about pro ball at all.
The Big Mac Blog: Has the feel of campus changed with football doing as well as it has?
Perry Jones III: Definitely. You see the players on campus now. It's not as quiet as it used to be. The players aren't rushing to classes because they had a bad game. They are interacting morewith each other now. Everybody hangs out together now.
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