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Tuesday, June 13, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Ex-Husky Jones moving up charts

Seattle Times staff reporter

Bobby Jones doesn't have big plans for viewing the NBA draft June 28.

He'll likely watch it at home in Los Angeles with his parents and a few close friends instead of organizing any sort of larger gathering.

"I don't want to jinx myself and set myself up for failure," he said Monday. "I always think about the worst-case scenario."

But suddenly, after the former Washington forward turned in one of the better showings at last week's NBA pre-draft camp in Orlando, Fla., all of the best-case scenarios now seem possible.

Jones was viewed as a borderline draftee when the college season ended, but now appears all but guaranteed to hear his name called. And one NBA draft site, hoopshype.com, quoted an anonymous NBA player-personnel official Monday as calling Jones one of several players who have "legitimate shots of moving into the bottom part of the first round."

Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar attended the Orlando camp and heard the same type of talk from NBA scouts he encountered.

"He really helped himself," Romar said. "It would be a huge shock if he doesn't get drafted. And I don't want to jinx him, but I think people will be surprised at how high he gets picked."

Jones averaged 6.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists at the camp. But as was always the case during his UW career, it was the other parts of Jones' game, namely defense, that carried the day.

"Everybody has a niche," Romar said. "Do what you do, is what we always try to say.

"Bobby walks in with a reputation as a defender and he goes out there and it's just obvious how good a defender he is. It just really stood out. He coupled that with hitting some open shots and making nice drives to the basket. And he just plays so hard that it catches you off guard."

Before Orlando, Jones had workouts with the Lakers, Jazz, Kings, Warriors and Cavaliers. He now has six more workouts set up, including with the Sonics, Trail Blazers and Mavericks.

The questions that revolved around Jones when last season ended concerned his shooting and ballhandling. Jones saw his scoring (10.4 as a senior, 11.2 as a junior) and shooting stats (.473 in 2005-06, .510 in 2004-05) each drop a bit last season, in part due to a nagging ankle injury suffered in mid-December.

But in postseason workouts with the likes of longtime NBA scout and coach Tom Newell, Jones has concentrated on those two aspects and improved enough to where Romar says Jones "is now comfortable making NBA three-pointers."

Of his Orlando performance, Jones said, "I think every game I played I got better and did something a bit different that people didn't know or think I could do."

As for his rising-with-a-bullet draft stock, Jones said he's trying not to read too much into what Web sites and others off the court say. "But I feel real confident talking to the teams," he said. "They like me a lot, and it's usually the teams that are already good and just need those one or two role players to set them up for making a deep title run. I'm real happy right now."

Life, in fact, has rarely been better.

Along with the good news on the court, he received his degree Saturday in Written Expression/Multi-Cultural Literature, one of four UW basketball seniors to graduate. Zane Potter, Mike Jensen and Jamaal Williams also received degrees.

"I'm kind of nervous, but at the same time, I'm excited about where life is going to take me on June 28," Jones said.

Note

• Nicholls State is likely to be the final team in the Basketball Travelers Classic that the Huskies will host Nov. 12-14, joining Pepperdine and Northern Iowa.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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