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Thursday, June 9, 2011
Lamont Jones goes from Zona to Iona

By Eamonn Brennan

A few months ago, Lamont "MoMo" Jones was slicing and dicing the Duke Blue Devils on the way to a stunningly thorough Sweet 16 win. With the exception of Derrick Williams -- who posted a dominant 32-point, 13-rebound performance on his way to a near-lock top-two selection in this year's NBA draft -- he was Arizona's best player. Just a sophomore, Jones's future at Arizona seemed limitless.

Lamont Jones
Lamont Jones, who averaged 9.6 points per game last season and scored 16 against Duke in the NCAA tournament, is transferring to Iona.
Then he transferred. Wait ... huh?

Yes, Jones, apparently worried about his playing time with highly touted point guard Josiah Turner arriving in the fall, decided another hoops destination would be best for his long-term prospects. Right or wrong, advisable or not, that was his choice. The next question -- where Jones would take his talents -- was the more pertinent one.

The answer is arguably more surprising than the transfer decision itself. According to ESPN New York's Kieran Darcy, Jones will play his two remaining years of eligibility at ... wait for it ... Iona.

What would make Jones want to transfer from one of the country's elite (not to mention constantly improving) high-major programs to a small school in the MAAC? Jones clearly wants to be back in New York; many believed he would have transferred to St. John's if not for an NCAA rule that disallows one-time high school coaches from coaching their former players in college. (St. John's assistant Moe Hicks coached Jones for part of his high school career.) Likewise, Jones said in a statement that his desire to be "closer to my family, and in particular my grandmother," was a driving force behind the decision. Jones said his grandmother is ill, and he will seek a hardship waiver from the NCAA that would allow him to play this fall rather than waiting the usual transfer year to become eligible.

Whether or not the NCAA grants that waiver remains to be seen. If Jones doesn't play this year, Iona will still be an interesting mid-major squad, a team that returns its top two scorers, Michael Glover and Scott Machado, after a solid 25-12 season. If Jones is able to play in 2012, Iona becomes a huge MAAC favorite and Sweet 16 sleeper candidate.

Either way, one thing is for sure: Jones is going to put up huge numbers in the MAAC. He'll be a star. He might well dominate. That seemed to be the point of his transfer decision in the first place, and man, will it ever be true for the Gaels.