Perry Jones III is one of a handful of rookies who has signed with Adidas, and while attending an event at the Adidas Village in Portland, Ore., I had a chance to briefly discuss with him his transition to the NBA.
Jones has to be considered the most talented NBA prospect to nearly fall to the second round in a long time.
Having been selected No. 28 by the Oklahoma City Thunder, Jones will join the Western Conference champions for the 2012-13 season.
Questions about what position he’ll play, as well as whether he has the intensity to excel at the next level, pushed him out of the lottery, but with a high ceiling and loads of potential, the former Baylor Bear has a chance to prove skeptics wrong if his diverse skill set can translate to the NBA.
Bleacher Report: Your rookie class is being considered one of the best to come along in a long time. Does that do anything when it comes to adding pressure or extra motivation for your rookie season?
Perry Jones III: I mean, I haven’t really thought about it. It is what it is. Just gonna go out there and play regardless of the rookie class. It just means there’s more talent in the NBA now, so you just gotta come out with your A-game.
What’s been your biggest transition up to this point, going from a college basketball player just a few months back to being a professional athlete here today?
There’s no time limit on work anymore. In college there was a time limit. You get a certain amount of hours a week to work out. In the NBA, there’s no time limit. You can work out a lot and it’s pretty hectic and it’s something you’ve got to get used to.
Can you describe coming into the league and immediately joining the Western Conference champions?
It’s a lot of pressure...I guess you could say pretty much I play for the best team. It’s gonna be a lot of hard work. But I mean, at the same time, we’re gonna have guys like (Kevin) Durant and (Russell) Westbrook pushing me to be even better.
Have you had much contact with your teammates yet?
A lot of contact.
Mostly Kevin (Durant), even though he was in the USA games and everything, I still got to talk to him.
What kind of rookie hazing do you think will come your way next year?
I’m not too sure. Probably push me in the cold tub or something (laughs). Not too sure.
Nothing too bad?
Nothing too bad. I mean, the guys are more like family. I don’t know. I don’t want to think about it (laughs).
That’s fair. How well do you think you fit in with the roster that you’re joining?
I’m not too sure how well I fit in, actually. I just want to be able to contribute any way I can and hopefully bring the team a little more success than last year and we can win a championship.
What can you do to turn OKC’s Big Four into a Big Five?
A Big Five? That’s a big deal (laughs). Pretty much just work hard and learn from Kevin. We’re sort of the same size, sort of the same skill sets. He’s just at a much better level. So definitely learn from him on the offensive end and being able to guard him on defense every day, or trying to guard him on defense every day, is gonna help me defensively. Hopefully I’ll be able to do a lot for the team.
Which NBA players do you try to model your game after, and which NBA players currently are your favorites to watch?
Kevin Durant and LeBron (James) on the athletic side. But my favorites to watch are probably Kevin, LeBron and Dwyane Wade. I liked watching the Thunder when I was in college. It was just the most exciting games to watch, to be honest.
What is Perry Jones' ceiling at the NBA level?
Going into your rookie season, are you going to try to be more of a post player or a perimeter player?
Whatever the coach needs me to be. Whatever the team feels like they can use me. That’s what I’m gonna be.
With this 2012 class being so strong, who’s your pick to win Rookie of the Year?
To be honest, I don’t know because everybody, every rookie, has different roles. It’s kind of hard to say right now.
Generally, what do you expect from your rookie season, both on and off the court?
Off the court, a lot of autographs. Sign a whole lot of autographs.
Do you like that?
Somewhat. I like signing autographs for little kids because I like to interact with them and things like that. But on the court, definitely getting better. Even if I don’t see any minutes on the court this year or next year, definitely getting better every day in practice and just learning from one of the best players to play.