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Iona Basketball: Momo Jones Clearance Opens Door for the Gaels to Win the MAAC

ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24:  Lamont Jones #12 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates after defeating the Duke Blue Devils during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 24, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Andrew JordanSenior Writer IOctober 21, 2011

Yesterday, Iona basketball found out some fantastic news. After weeks of speculation, the NCAA announced that former Arizona guard Lamont "Momo" Jones will be eligible to play for the Gaels this season.

Last season, Jones was a major contributor for an Arizona side that reached the Elite Eight, averaging 9.7 points and 2.4 assists per game for the Wildcats.

After the season ended, Jones applied to transfer away from the desert and move back to his home in New York City to play college ball.

Originally it appeared that Momo was going to apply to play for Steve Lavin and St. John's. But Jones claimed that he never was contacted by the Queens school.

A major reason why St. John's probably didn't contact Jones was due to a recent NCAA rule that prevents players from playing at a school where a former coach is employed for the first two seasons. Current Red Storm director of basketball operations Mo Hicks coached Momo at Rice High School for two years.

Jones then had a chance to join any other basketball school in the New York City area. To the surprise of many people in the basketball industry, Momo decided to transfer to Iona College in New Rochelle.

Last season, Iona had a resurgence under new coach Tim Cluess that saw the Gaels win 25 games. Iona also went on to play in the MAAC championship game, where they lost to Saint Peter's.

Because of an NCAA rule that makes student athletes sit out a year when they transfer from one Division One school to another, Iona decided to apply to get a hardship waiver to have Jones play for the Maroon and Gold this season.

Iona fell to Saint Peters in the MAAC Championship game last year. This year they are the undoubted favorites to win the MAAC
Iona fell to Saint Peters in the MAAC Championship game last year. This year they are the undoubted favorites to win the MAACChris Chambers/Getty Images

 

 

The reason Jones decided to move back home to play college basketball was due to the fact that his grandmother is battling Hepatitis C. Iona decided to use Jones' grandmother's illness as grounds for a medical hardship waiver to get Jones to play this season.

After receiving the news yesterday that he will be playing this season, Jones said in a statement, "I'm grateful to the NCAA for granting the waiver which allows me to be nearer to my family."

Now that Jones will play for Iona this season, he will join an already-strong group of players for this season.

Iona already has the best player in the MAAC in Michael Glover, while others, such as Scott Machado, Kyle Smyth, Jermel Jenkins and Sean Armand, were key players for the Gaels throughout the season.

With Coach Cluess' fast-paced offense and a team that is similar to last season, the Gaels go from one of the two best teams in the MAAC alongside last year's regular season MAAC champion, Fairfield.

But now with Jones starring for the Maroon and Gold this season, Iona is on a different level than any other college basketball program in the MAAC. 

Iona can also consider itself to be one of the top mid-majors in the country and is already a side that can be the surprise team in the NCAA tournament.

To start off their season, the Gaels will travel to Puerto Rico to face Purdue on November 17, and the first home game that the Gaels will play in will come on November 23 against Saint Joseph's (PA).

For more Iona basketball news, follow me on Twitter @Andrew_Jordan

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