Jones hopes to make Cleveland Cavaliers' roster
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MORGANTOWN - Kevin Jones is trying to make the Cleveland Cavaliers' roster as an undrafted free agent, despite an injured left heel that's keeping him out of the NBA summer league.
Under those circumstances, he could easily occupy his time with something other than a basketball camp for kids.
Yet later this month he'll be playing host to a three-day event at George Washington High School.
"For me to come back to the state that's given me so much and have an opportunity to meet new people and help kids who are trying to live the same dream that I'm trying to live, that's exciting for me and something I wouldn't want to pass up," said Jones, the fifth-leading scorer (1,822) and third-leading rebounder (1,048) in the history of West Virginia men's basketball.
Overlooked in last month's NBA Draft, he signed a three-year, partially guaranteed contract with the Cavaliers Wednesday. He learned the same day that the heel he injured in a pre-draft workout for the Sacramento Kings needed three weeks of recovery.
That meant no summer league, where he might have earned a roster spot. Jones said he still was promised an invitation to training camp in the fall while being encouraged to do as little as possible so he wouldn't aggravate the heel.
His camp is July 27-29 for boys and girls ages 7-16. It costs $150 per person. The first two days run from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and includes lunch. The final day is 12:30-3:30 p.m. with an all-star game and awards ceremony.
Jones said former teammates Da'Sean Butler and Truck Bryant will participate and that he's trying to confirm other names from his era.
Jones wants to have drills that will help skills and contests that will strengthen competitive instincts, but he also wants to stress the importance of the determination that he has flexed to reach this point.
"Keep working hard," he said. "Whatever they do, they're going to have people tell them what they think of them, what they can't do, all that stuff.
"You can't worry about that. You have to have self-confidence and push forward to reach your goal.
"If the goal is reaching the NBA, then work as hard as you can to make it. It might happen, it might not happen, but when you can say that you have no regrets and that you did everything you could, that's the best way to feel."
Jones will have stations to teach ball-handling, passing, rebounding, defending and shooting techniques, but he'll also focus on attitude and sportsmanship.
He plans to instill in the campers that desire, self-discipline and confidence are important traits to overcome any perceived limitations.
"It comes out of self-confidence," he said. "You know what you can do. You know your ability. You have to be the best player you can be. You might not get to be an all-star. You might not win two or three championships, but if you know who you are and you do what you can do be that person, that's all that matters.
"It's difficult and you've got to stay true to yourself and you have to have a good circle around you. I'm lucky. I've been blessed with a great family and great friends who support me and know what I can do and they've helped me stay that person and never be affected by any outside interference."
Jones has been in Cleveland working out and rehabilitating and he'll be in Morgantown this weekend, where he'll continue his recovery. After the camp, he heads back to Cleveland to prepare for training camp.
The Cavaliers figure to be active with their roster with only a few guaranteed contracts and a number of openings for the 2012-13 roster. They've already been rumored to be a part of trades and signings that were supposed to affect Jones, but those never happened.
He has moved past the disappointment of not being drafted, despite his agent saying a team with a first-round pick promised to take Jones somewhere in the draft and another team pledged to use its pick early in the second round on Jones.
Jones instead sat in the stands at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., as players he believe he was better than got drafted into his dream. No longer will he worry about the rumors and decisions he can't control.
"I think I'll leave that to my brother and my agent - they keep their eyes on that," he said. "Right now I can only worry about getting my heel better.
"I have a responsibility to get better for the team so I can show then the player I am in camp. I know what I can do. Now it's about me getting ready to show them the best player I can be."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.