Former Connors State guard Mason Jones on Friday announced he'll forego his senior season at Arkansas and enter the NBA draft.
His former coach at Connors, Bill Muse, said he just hopes the current way of the world doesn't get in his way.
"I'm extremely happy for him," Muse said. "I just hope this coronavirus stuff doesn't slow down all the good work he's put in and he gets rewarded for it.
"He came from nowhere and shot up so fast with the year he had that he didn't have the publicity that some of these guys did going into the season."
Jones was an Associated Press honorable mention All-American. He was also SEC co-Player of the Year after leading the team in scoring at 22.03 points per game, which was eighth overall in the NCAA.
"First I would like to thank God for blessing me with the ability to play the game I love so much. Thank you to Coach Muss, (University of Arkansas men's basketball) staff and my teammates for pushing me to be a better person on and off the court. Thank you Razorback Nation fans! The best fans in the world," he wrote in a social media post Friday on Twitter.
He could not be reached for further comment.
Jones also led Arkansas in rebounding, assists and steals. His 30-point games this season were the most by an SEC player in 20 years.
"Mason had a phenomenal season," said Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman in a statement issued by the school. "It came through hours of hard work and dedication as well as a desire to be the best player he could be. Our system gives players the freedom and opportunity to showcase their strengths and Mason took full advantage of it to become one of the top players in college basketball this season. We fully support Mason, and any player, pursuing his dream."
The early outlook for Jones varies. NBADraftRoom.com lists him at the bottom of their second round possibilities. However, draft analyst Rashad Phillips who runs 2319 Sports Talk said on ESPN Arkansas' "The Morning Rush Show" this week that Jones is a "first round talent."
"I think the reason why he's not high is because I think they value athletic ability more than they value skills and production," he said.
"Mason is not a high leaper, he's not a hot flyer, none of those type of things. But what you're looking at is a guy that reminds me a lot of (former NBA player) James Jones. Uh, remember James Jones won some championships with LeBron (in Miami). He was a terrific 6-7, 6-8 jump shooter. Jones has a lot of those qualities. He reminds me a little bit of Antoine Walker and just the prototypical three and D wing — Tobias Harris type of player."
Muse thinks the oversight is because of Jones being a relative unknown.
"If he was to go back next year, he would be preseason favorite for Player of the Year and a preseason All-American and all that," he said. "He had none of that on his side going into this year.
"But I don't think there's any doubt he'll be a successful pro with the work habits and determination he has."
Jones' 15.5 points average was second on the team in his lone season at Connors, 2017-18. He also averaged 6.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
The only Connors State player to be drafted was Elmore Spencer in 1992, 25th overall by the Los Angeles Clippers.
The draft, for now, is scheduled June 25. The current season remains on hold.