Coastal Carolina transfer DeVante' Jones hoping to hear from Kentucky
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Coastal Carolina transfer DeVante' Jones hoping to hear from Kentucky

Jack Pilgrim7 months


Article written by:Jack PilgrimJack Pilgrim
<small>(Photo: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)</small>
[caption id="attachment_348605" align="alignnone" width="683"] (Photo: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)[/caption] Another day, another high-level guard option becoming available for the Kentucky basketball program. Coastal Carolina grad transfer DeVante' Jones, the 2021 Sun Belt Player of the Year, officially put his name in the transfer portal on Tuesday morning. The 6-foot-1 guard, who averaged a career-high 19.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game and shot 49% from the field and 37% from three in 2020-21, previously earned second-team All-Sun Belt and Freshman of the Year honors in his first two seasons as a Chanticleer. Jones is expected to test the NBA Draft waters, but if he decides to return to college, the former Coastal Carolina standout is expected to be one of the top available guard prospects on the market. And with Kentucky desperately looking to add another point guard to the roster this offseason, it's easy to see why mutual interest may be on the table. After entering the portal, Jones spoke with KSR about his game, the schools expressing early interest, the draft process and a timeline for a decision, among other topics. Check out the entire conversation below:
How was your time at Coastal Carolina? What led you to exploring your options both professionally and in the transfer portal? My time at Coastal Carolina was awesome. I developed a lot of good relationships with great people, the community itself is the best community I've been a part of. From the managers, to the coaches, to the players, I've met some great guys I call my brothers for life now. The teachers there, I mean everything was just amazing. But for me, I just wanted to do something different. I feel like I did a lot of Coastal - they helped me out and I feel like I helped them out a lot too - but I'd like to be able to showcase my talent on a bigger platform. That's been a goal of mine, it's always been a goal of mine. I want to play for a national championship, so that also played a major role in that. My first goal right now is to focus on the NBA Draft, that's been a goal of mine since I was eight. I've been telling the coaches who have been in contact with me and my dad that I don't have a timetable for none of that stuff. I'm just going to focus on the draft, I've put myself in position to be an NBA player, but only time will tell. That's just where my head is right now. What do you think you could showcase at a new program? I feel like I have no ceiling. It doesn't matter what school I go to, I will bring that winning mentality with me, the dog mentality each and every practice, night in and night out. I want to be held to a high standard, I don't want any coach to get too comfortable with me, I want a coach to trust me at all times. I want to be pushed to my max, I want to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I feel like I'm not even close to what I'm supposed to be yet, I can do way more with my body, being in better condition. At Coastal, I feel like I wasn't in the best shape, so I didn't perform at my best. I just went off my ability to be a hooper. If I do come back to school and play on a higher platform, I know I'll be able to get my body right, drill into my brain the details of taking care of my body and competing at a high level each and every night. There's a lot of things, this is a process I'm going to enjoy. I can't wait to see what happens. What do you feel your biggest strengths and biggest weaknesses are? What are you looking to improve about your game before you take this next step? Something I know I can improve on and something I was mad at myself for this past year is  shooting the ball better. I know I increased my 3-point percentage, but I know I can do way better. There were a lot of games this past year where I missed wide open shots, and I was mad at myself after the season going back and watching film. "Man, I should've made this" or "I should've made that." That comes down to me not being in condition, I wasn't in the best shape, so I put that on myself. Expanding my range, that's something I've been working on already during this pre-draft process. Working on finishes around the rim, working on my floaters more, working on a lot of things on the defensive end. I'm just working on my overall game. I'm not perfect at nothing. I feel like I'm very good in the open floor, but I feel like I can be a lot better, a lot more aggressive, quicker with my decision making. Everything goes back to conditioning, I was never in perfect shape, so I wasn't able to play at my best. What people saw this year, that wasn't even the best DJ. I was grateful to play this year without injuries, but if I come back to school or go to the NBA, conditioning will be the main thing I'm focused on for sure. What feedback would you have to hear to keep your name in the draft? What are you hoping to hear during that process? I've heard a couple good things already, but as we get closer to the combine and the draft, some things I'd like to hear that would keep my name in the draft is, "We want you, you're the guy we want. You fit this team. You can help right away, we need you." Just give me that guaranteed spot - if I stay in the draft - that I'll be drafted or picked up undrafted, hearing a team needs me or I fit their specific needs, that could push me to staying in the draft. Hearing that from an organization, that'd be a blessing. It's something I'll be waiting to hear. So it's not about a first- or second-round guarantee? It's more about trust and a team believing in you, taking a chance on you? That's the most important thing for me. I feel like all the guys that get drafted, it's not always the right fit. It'd be a blessing to get a first- or second-round guarantee. I'm not throwing that out the window once I get in front of a lot of NBA scouts who haven't seen me, their perspectives might change. It could be late first, early, mid, late second, I'm not really worried about that, I just want that coach that wants me. I want a team to fall in love with me, it's all about the fit. Me being a competitor, obviously I'd love to be in the first or second round, but everybody can't be a first or second rounder. Fred VanVleet went undrafted, and look at what he's done in the league, so I don't get too caught up in the first and second round stuff at all. You’re one of the most productive mid-major players in the country. How do you look at a player like Carlik Jones at Louisville, who went from being named Player of the Year in the Big South to earning All-ACC honors just a year later? He proved he could do it on both stages. Is that kind of what you’re hoping to do at your next stop if you decide to return to school? Yes, that would be the goal. Just proving a lot of people wrong, I feel like a lot of people just think I'm a mid-major guy. There's nothing wrong with being a mid-major guy, look at CJ McCollum and Ja Morant, guys like that. They're all doing it at a high level in the league. I took a different route, but if I come back to school, I want to show that I can do it on any stage I'm put on and can adapt to any situation. That's the type of player and type of person I am, so that would definitely be something I would try to convince to the world. You put your name in the portal on Friday, then withdrew, now you’re back in. Did any schools reach out right away when your name went in the first time around? And what schools have you heard from since putting your name back in today? Friday, when I put my name in the portal, I heard from 15-plus schools in the first five minutes. And now that I'm back in it, it's the same way. I've heard from Texas, Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, St. John's, Kansas, a lot of Kentucky people showing love, TCU, Baylor. It's a lot of schools, I can't even keep track of them all. Oklahoma State, the head coach, I got in contact with him. I've also heard from Memphis and Michigan, they have Penny Hardaway and Juwan Howard. And I also talked to Baylor. I'm pushing people to my parents because I don't want to get too involved in that and get distracted from my ultimate goal. But yeah, I've had a lot of colleges hit me up so far. What Kentucky people have showed love? Have the UK coaches reached out? I wouldn't say coaches yet, but reporters, bloggers, people around the Kentucky basketball program, that kind of stuff. No coaches yet, but it's a lot of people around the Kentucky organization following me, sending me messages, stuff like that, but none of the coaches yet. Are you expecting significant interest from Kentucky? What would a call from Coach Cal mean to you?  It's crazy because growing up, I always wanted to play for Kentucky because of Coach Calipari being the legend he is. Now it's like, I don't really -- I care about the school name, but I wouldn't be completely overwhelmed. It would be a blessing to hear from Coach Calipari, just to hear what he has to say about my game and how I can help him, how he can help me. I talked to a couple guys that are higher up, so I feel like Calipari would (call). I could see myself at Kentucky, I definitely could. It's going to be a crazy decision for me and I have a lot to think about, but Kentucky would definitely be an option, for sure. They'd definitely be in my top five. What are you looking for in a school? My ultimate goal is to be an NBA guy, so I don't want to just go to a school where it's a big-name school, but it's not the right fit. That's not going to help me in the long run. Me putting my name in the portal, it was about finding the perfect fit for myself. I want to go to a situation where I've got the ball in my hands, the coach trusts me to make those plays. It has to be a really good relationship with the coach, the point guard and the coach have to have the best relationship. That's a really important thing to me, I want to have a good relationship with the coach. In terms of a timeline, what are you hoping for? Do you expect to take this all the way to the NBA withdrawal deadline? Definitely going to wait until the last deadline, because I honestly feel like I'm an NBA player now. I've talked to a couple NBA guys and they agree with me. I don't want to overlook my ultimate goal and just rush back to school. My decision to enter the portal was for a coach to understand what my dream is. I feel like if a school really needs me, it'll make my decision easier, because if they're still there by the time I pull my name out of the draft, I know that they really care about my future, what I can become as a player and as a person. That plays a major role. The deadline for me is going to be probably June. Whatever coach is still around, that's what I'm going to be picking from. What do you want fans to know about you as you take this next step forward? I want them to know I'm a hard worker, I give everything I've got to anywhere I'm at. Showing love to the community, 24/7, being that person that loves to interact with fans, little kids, because I'm a guy that's not supposed to be here. I'm from New Orleans, Louisiana, man, no one thought I'd be here. I can't wait to enjoy this process, create bonds with some of these coaches, some of these communities, some of these fanbases. If I do come to your school and play for your college, you're going to get a real dog, a hard worker, a guy that wants to win, a guy that's going to make that conscious effort to push my team and hold my team accountable to national championship heights.

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