Texas coach Shaka Smart, right, speaks to Andrew Jones after a 64-61 final against TCU during a NCAA college basketball game at the Frank Erwin Center Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. (Stephen Spillman / for AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

BEVO BEAT Men's Basketball

Andrew Jones will return as Shaka Smart’s dynamite May continues

Texas freshman said he would stay in the NBA draft if he received a first-round grade

Posted May 22nd, 2017

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Texas freshman Andrew Jones insisted that he would stay in the upcoming NBA draft if he received first-round feedback. On Monday, the talented guard tweeted that he was staying in school.

“I’m officially withdrawing my name from the NBA Draft,” Jones tweeted. “I’m matured and learned a lot through this process. I enjoyed the experience and opportunity that I had to be able to participate in the combine and team workouts.

https://twitter.com/DrewdotCash/status/866697411091206144

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“I would like to thank my family and coaches for their love and guidance,” he added. “Also I appreciate the fans for their support and I’m ready to get back to Austin. Time to go to work with my teammates. Hungry and Humble. #Hookem”

By rule, underclassmen had 10 days after the NBA scouting combine to make a final decision whether they would stay in or get out of the draft. Inside the basketball program, it was long thought that Jones would come back, but coach Shaka Smart was fully supportive of the guard’s decision to test the waters.

“Andrew has taken a mature approach to gathering feedback from NBA teams about areas where he can continue to grow,” Smart said in a statement. “His work ethic has been terrific, and he is highly motivated to develop and help his team win. Our coaching staff is very excited to help him continue to move forward, on and off the court.”

That’s exactly why the NCAA tweaked the rules — to allow underclassmen to keep their eligibility, not sign with an agent and work out for NBA executives. Jones did exactly that. He had at least three known workouts, including one with the Spurs, and received valuable feedback.

“The hope is to improve my stock enough that I can crack the first round and have a high enough draft pick to stay in,” Jones told the American-Statesman at the NBA scouting combine. “But if not, I’ll reevaluate it, go back to school and take the feedback and improve my game.”

Texas guard Andrew Jones (1) celebrates scoring against Eastern Washington during a NCAA college basketball game at the Frank Erwin Center Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Jones averaged 11.4 points and shot almost 33 percent from 3-point range last season. He had 41 assists and 82 turnovers while handling the ball probably better than anyone expected. Smart has signed point guard Matt Coleman for next season, someone expected to be an instant starter.

With Jones coming back, the Longhorns have plenty of pieces to get back into the Big 12’s upper crust.

Last week, Smart landed five-star center Mohamed Bamba, the nation’s No. 2- ranked recruit for 2017. Bamba could become the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft.

The Longhorns still have one scholarship available for the 2017-18 season, but there is no guarantee it will get used.

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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