MORGANTOWN - Bill Neff is the sports agent in the middle of the story about West Virginia forward Kevin Jones' path to the NBA Draft.
This is Neff's credo when it comes to guarantees in his world:
"Until the contract is signed and the paychecks are in the bank, I don't believe anything," he said.
With that serving as the backdrop of the final few days before Thursday's event in Newark, N.J., consider the latest news from the New York-based agent. He and Jones have a guarantee from one NBA team.
"There is a team picking in the first round that has told us point blank that they are committed to drafting him," Neff said. "Now, what does that mean? Does that mean they'll draft him in their place? Does that mean they'll trade down to draft him somewhere else, which can happen? If they think they can get you at 30, they can drop down and do that. They could drop down into the second round if that's where they think they can get him.
"So I don't know and I can't control that. What I do know is that a team has told us, 'He's our guy.' We're not certain they'll draft him where they are, but they told us that Kevin's their guy."
Jones, the presumed runner-up and perhaps rightful winner of the Big East's player of the year award this past season, hasn't generated buzz quite like this leading up to the draft. He's worked out for a handful of teams. He did pretty well at the pre-draft combine in Chicago.
But he has otherwise had a hard time getting quality workouts against comparable or even superior players. Neff has even had issues with the way some of the online talent evaluators and mock drafters have ranked his client.
So along those lines, would it be out of the realm of possibility, or even near the border, for all of this to pop up at the most opportune time and send teams back to their draft boards? Certainly not.
Then again, no offense to Jones, but he's not the kind of player who will rearrange plans in the 11th hour and even Neff acknowledges that by stating Jones "isn't a sexy pick."
He is not, for example, Dion Waiters, the former Syracuse guard who vanished from the pre-draft process and somehow shot up draft boards after people presumed he was promised to the Phoenix Suns at No. 13.
And larger than that is this: Subterfuge isn't Neff's trade, not in a trust business where he has been historically trusted by underrated, developmental league and CBA types. Neff has known Jones since Jones was in sixth grade, too, and Jones sought out Neff when he was looking for representation, so figure sincerity trumps strategy here.
What Neff and Jones do know is 24 teams have at least one pick in the first round and six (New Orleans Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics) have two picks.
There are 17 teams with picks in the first and second rounds and New Orleans (three), Cleveland (four), Portland (four), Philadelphia 76ers (three), Denver Nuggets (three), Boston (three) and Golden State (four) have more than two.