Each of the draft prospects who have passed through the Knicks’ Tarrytown facilities in recent weeks for practices have arrived with a different perspective.
Texas point guard Andrew Jones came in thinking he was lucky to be alive.
After battling leukemia, Jones’ inspirational story took him to Tarrytown on Thursday for his first-ever NBA practice, battling draft prospects with less of a meandering trip.
He saw Derrick Rose in the locker room and greeted former Texas teammate Jericho Sims, who was drafted by the Knicks last year.
“There were a lot of things during my treatment that people didn’t understand,” Jones said. “There was a moment when I didn’t know if I was going to make it. Who knew if my body would ever come back?
“It’s a surreal opportunity right now,” he added. “It’s a blessing especially because I went through this process four years ago. After being diagnosed, I never thought I would be here again. So, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to show that I’m improving and that I can play at this higher level. ”
Jones was diagnosed with leukemia in January 2018 during a season in which he was the Longhorns’ leading scorer. He had considered going out for the draft. Instead, he underwent chemotherapy and missed the remainder of the 2017-18 season and most of the 2018-19 season.
In his sixth season at Austin, in 2021-22, Jones averaged 11.2 points, 1.5 steals and shot 32.5 percent from 3. He likely won’t be drafted and will progress from the G-League.
When asked why he didn’t have any more training sessions, Jones said: “I guess I had no interest from the teams at first. After my pro day [in California], I guess I’ve sparked a bit of interest. I hope to have more.”
And it suits him well after what he’s been through. He dedicated the NIL money he received from endorsements to cancer research.
“I just kept my head down and trusted the process,” Jones said. “Five years later, I’m grateful to be here.
He thinks he’ll be more of a point guard than the shooter he was in Texas.
“In college, I was used more as a scorer,” Jones said. “I feel like at the top level, my versatility and ability to play creates and spaces the floor. It’s going to be a fun brand of basketball to play.”