Roosevelt Jones made it further than even he imagined in his basketball career, but has decided that chronic back pain is more than he could overcome at the next level.
The O’Fallon High School graduate and former Butler University standout informed the Canton Charge of the NBA Developmental League that, at age 24, his playing days are done.
He made the decision after playing with the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Summer League.
“I was one step away from living out my dream of playing in the NBA, which is crazy to think about because I never thought I’d get this far,” he said. “I’ve been playing through this and just had to deal with a lot of pain every time I had to play or work out. I just decided it was time to move on. I want to be sure that when I’m older I’ll be able to walk normally.”
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Jones announced his decision in social media Sunday, thanking the former coaches and friends both in Indianapolis and the metro-east who encouraged him.
“It’s been a difficult decision for me to make this decision,” Jones wrote on Instagram, “but with the lingering pain that I have been in with my back for years it has finally come to the point where it is unbearable. I play the game 110 percent all the time and if I’m not able to give that night in and night out then I am just cheating myself and my teammates.”
I was one step away from living out my dream of playing in the NBA, which is crazy to think about because I never thought I'd get this far.
After leading O’Fallon with 17.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game as a senior in 2011, Jones moved on to Butler University. He graduated from the Indianapolis school ranked first all-time in games played, fourth in assists, fifth in rebounds, eighth in steals and 12th in scoring with 1,533 points.
He went unselected in last year’s NBA Draft, but Jones caught the attention of the Cleveland Cavaliers during a D-League tryout last September in New York City. Of the six players signed by the Canton Charge — the Cavalier’s D-League affiliate — Jones was the only one to make the 12-man regular season roster.
It took 10 games for Jones to get more than 17 minutes of playing time in a game, partially because of the chronic back pain and a minor leg injury.
At 6-foot-4, Jones is a small forward, but at 225 pounds, he’s a huge guard. He’s always been a strong rebounder and does most of his scoring close to the rim. But Jones himself regards defense as his specialty.
Jones forced his way into the Charge’s starting lineup with a 15-point, 12-rebound performance against the Delaware 87ers on Dec. 16. He finished the season averaging 27.5 minutes per game, 6.6 points, 6.37 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
I play the game 110 percent all the time and if I'm not able to give that night in and night out then I am just cheating myself and my teammates.
It was a good enough season to earn Jones a contract with the Cavaliers for the 10-day NBA Summer League in Las Vegas July 7-17. He was limited to 17 minutes per game, but still averaged 5.8 rebounds.
Jones is back home in O’Fallon for now, hoping to find an opportunity kick off a career in coaching. He said he’s consulted former Butler coaches Brad Stevens and Chris Holtmann for advice.
“They gave me some good information about how to get started and what I should do to prepare myself,” Jones said. “I’d like to try either the high school or college level, but think I’ll probably have to start out in high school first.”
AT A GLANCE
These are Roosevelt Jones’ career highlights:
Canton Charge, NBA D-League
▪ 2016-17 6.6 ppg, 6.37 rpg, 3.1 apg
Butler University 2011-2016
▪ 2015-16 13.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 50 steals, 154 assists
▪ 2014-15 12.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 31 steals, 125 assists
▪ 2013-14 OUT
▪ 2012-13 10.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 31 steals, 126 assists
▪ 2011-12 7.8 ppg, 6 rpg, 35 steals, 59 assists
O’Fallon High School 2007-2011
▪ 2010-11 17.2 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 77 steals, 122 assists
▪ 2009-10 19.3 ppg, 12.1 rpg, 113 steals, 140 assists
▪ 2008-09 12.9 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 50 steals, 117 assists
▪ 2007-08 one game played, no stats