Men's Basketball Sports

Former Cougar becomes NBA champion

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With their 2016 NBA Finals win Wednesday, the Cleveland Cavaliers saw their city earned the first sports championship title in 52 years, and more than a million people flooded the streets in excitement.

Both epic achievements were made possible due to the efforts of alumnus Damon Jones.

Jones is a Galveston native who grew up and eventually starred in basketball at Ball High School. After dominating on the court, Jones received a scholarship to play basketball at UH, where his impact was felt immediately.

In his freshman season, Jones averaged 10.3 points per game but struggled with his jump shot. Alvin Brooks, then–head coach, guided the six-foot-three-inch guard to improve nearly every facet of his game and was one of the top Conference USA guards by his junior year.

For his senior season, Jones averaged 16.4 points per game along with 4.9 assists and 1.4 steals. With some of the best all-around numbers in the country, the former sociology major chose to forgo the rest of the season to pursue a career in the NBA.

Jones’ performance in college earned himself a spot in UH basketball history. He ranked sixth in all-time three-pointers made and became a member of the 1000-point club.

Unfortunately, Jones was not selected in the 1997 NBA Draft and began his career playing semi-pro basketball. After three years of proving his abilities, Jones made his NBA debut Feb. 15, 1999 for the New Jersey Nets.

Jones was known as a journeyman in the NBA and managed to play for 10 of the league’s 30 teams in his decade-long career. His breakout season came when he played for the Miami Heat from 2004 to 2005 in which he averaged 11.6 points per game and shot .432 percent from the three-point line.

Following his Miami tenure, Jones headed north where he signed a four-year contract worth more than $16 million with the Cavaliers. In his three years here, Jones befriended star forward LeBron James and played an important support boosting the latter’s team to the 2007 NBA Championship.

Jones retired from basketball in 2012 after a brief stint in the NBA’s Developmental League. Basketball Reference showed the former Cougar earned close to $22 million in his playing career.

The Cavaliers hired Jones in 2014 as an assistant coach. His official role has been labeled as a “shooting consultant” for the last three seasons.

Although never winning a championship as a player, Jones became the fifth Cougar in history, after only Don Chaney, Carl Herrera, Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, to have “NBA champion” on his resume.

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