Earlier today, Adam Zagoria tweeted that Lamont “MoMo” Jones ended his search for a new school, choosing Iona over Seton Hall, Hofstra and UMass. Jones, a Harlem, NY native who decided to transfer from Arizona to be closer to his ailing grandmother, is hopeful of obtaining a hardship waiver from the NCAA to make him eligible for 2011-12.
If the NCAA grants Jones’ request, Iona will be the indisputable favorite to win the MAAC.
Jones, a quick guard who can knife through the lane and connect from mid-range, played the point for Sean Miller’s Wildcats last season. However, Iona already has an established floor general in Scott Machado, a rising senior whose 7.5 assists per game ranked second in the nation in 2010-11.
If the NCAA declares MoMo eligible for next season, he will slide over to the 2, which, despite his size, is his natural position—he has a scorer’s mentality and will benefit from being relieved of the onus of distributing.
Iona coach Tim Cluess prefers an up-tempo offense, into which Jones, who can run and drain pull-up jumpers on the break, should fit perfectly. Machado, who routinely connected with Michael Glover on alley-oops or Kyle Smyth for corner threes in transition, can now find a slashing MoMo.
Machado and Glover were both named to the All-MAAC First Team in 2010-11, and Glover, who averaged 18.4 points and 10.1 boards last season, will likely be voted MAAC Preseason Player of the Year this fall. Because of the aforementioned duo, Iona, even without MoMo, would be one of the MAAC’s two top dogs along with Fairfield.
The Stags return Derek Needham, an All-MAAC First Team selection, as well as Ryan Olander, who made the All-MAAC Second Team. Additionally, Colin Nickerson and Maurice Barrow both displayed flashes of brilliance in 2011-12, and Boston College transfer Rakim Sanders, who averaged 11.3 points for the Eagles as a junior, will be eligible.
Fairfield will be strong in 2011-12.
However, Iona has, arguably, the conference’s two best returning players as well as its top four scorers from last season's 25-win team. If the NCAA declares MoMo Jones eligible, the Gaels will also have a talented offensive player with experience in raucous environments and the Elite Eight—we all know he didn’t shy away from the spotlight in Arizona’s Sweet 16 upset of Duke.
If Jones is eligible, Iona will be the MAAC's team to beat.
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