Charles Jones Interview
InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner met up with two-time former NCAA scoring champion Charles Jones in June, before a USBL game. CJ has been starting on the Brooklyn Kings, who play at the Long Island University Brooklyn campus. LIU is where Jones gained his fame in college basketball, scoring at will, then working his way onto two NBA teams, prior to heading off to Europe. Enjoy the InsideHoops.com exclusive interview.
InsideHoops.com: Introduce yourself, where exactly in NYC did you grew up, what courts did you play at, run through everything.
Charles Jones: I grew up in Bedford-Styvescent on Fulton street between Marcus Garvey and Lewis. Man, I played in Kingston Park, Soul in the Hole, 305 Park I can say is where I really started at, when I was like 10 on up till around 12, 13. I played college basketball at Rutgers University, and Long Island University. I led the nation in scoring two years. I played two years in the NBA with the Bulls and the Clippers.
InsideHoops.com: What years did you lead the nation in scoring, I forget the exact seasons.
Charles Jones: That was 1996-97, 1997-98. When I was at Rutgers University, I think, I led the team both years in scoring and assists, I did pretty good, but things just didn't work out. Like I said, I played two years in the NBA, I've been to Italy, and Greece, and now I'm here playing with the Brooklyn Kings and the USBL, trying to get back in the league.
InsideHoops.com: Cool, so lets go back in time, talk about your experience going from high school to Rutgers and the recruiting experience.
Charles Jones: Well, to be honest, I listened to some of the wrong people when I choose my school. And I kind of choose school kind of early. Even though I played on an AAU team with a lot of guys, with a bunch of all-Americans, out of the 12 guys who made all-city in New York, some of the guys were on my team. And it was like, after I had a son, and was still in school, they were like, man you can go to prep school, or you can come here, and I was like, I can't do another year of high school, so I tried to go tough it out. Things were kind of going good, but we were losing a little too much. And so you know, things start going a little wrong, and at the same time I was just getting used to a little extended freedom I had, and things just didn't work out right.
InsideHoops.com: And when you say things weren't working out, what was up?
Charles Jones: I wasn't happy... you know, when you're not happy, you start doing things, and things just don't work out. That's basically what it was, it just didn't work out.
InsideHoops.com: So you knew you needed to make a change.
Charles Jones: Yeah. I'd say right after March Madness, I was looking for another school, maybe before that...
InsideHoops.com: This was back in 1995, right?
Charles Jones: Yeah. I was talking to James Madison, I was talking to coach at UTEP. Rutgers made it really hard for me to transfer schools, because, I guess with them calling every school that was recruiting me, with the negative publicity, they made it hard, so I bumped into a coach who happened to get the job here (LIU) that I knew since I was about eight or nine years old, and I helped him recruit two or three other guys, and things just took off from there.
InsideHoops.com: And from your time at LIU till the time you declared for the NBA draft, talk about that period, and what you thought was going to happen, and what actually did.
Charles Jones: With the drafting process, my stock kind of dropped.
InsideHoops.com: And this while you were leading the entire nation in scoring...
Charles Jones: Yeah, but see, with part of the negative propaganda, people talk, and people still have old bitterness, like with the Rutgers University situation, with some of the guys they call here, like the sports information guys, the athletic director, I guess some of the guys, when they get an opportunity to say negative things, they do, and with the league, it's only 58 names going to get called up. So out of the million people they got, they're trying to find ways to eliminate. So once they realize that certain teams are not going to take you it's like, why use this pick here, when these guys aren't going to take you we can probably bring him into camp and get him. So the Bulls called me, when it was the last six picks, we're still on the board to go, and they was like, listen, we already talked around the room, nobody is going to take you so we didn't take you, but we feel you can make our team, come to the mini-camp as soon as the draft is over. I did that, tore that up, went back to vet camp, stuck on the team. After that, they worked their way where the were going to have a first round pick, and they already said that they were going to be after a point guard...
InsideHoops.com: Do you consider yourself a point or a shooting guard? And what was being said to you, and what do you think was running through people's minds?
Charles Jones: I can do either-or. Me, I just play basketball. At LIU, it was meant for me to score, coach wanted me to score, because we didn't have any inside presense, so I basically was that, basically going. Some teams did probably think that I probably couldn't play the point. Like Tim Floyd even said at a few interviews that he was surprised at how well I played defense, and some things I could do, just thinking like, damn a guy leads the nation in scoring two years in a row, he's probably a selfish guy, probably doesn't play any defense. And him along with some other guys, they were surprised. That's just part of life, people are going to make their own opinions. And like I said, some of the negative things people had to say kind of hurt the draft situation, but it didn't stop me from making teams, beacause I was flat-out better than some of the guys they had, anyway.
InsideHoops.com: After all the big stats, you didn't get drafted.
Charles Jones: I went from preseason all-American, and season all-American, they signed me as a free agent. This is what I tell people, I wasn't lucky, I went into camp and I worked. I won a chance... if you look at the picture they had, my eye was virtually closed, from an incident that I had at a club, a little altercation. I made the team, and with the Clippers I made the team. They cut people with guaranteed money to keep me. I look at it like, man, it wasn't the talent... it's situations...
InsideHoops.com: And how did you wind up being out of the NBA and in Europe?
Charles Jones: With me not being in the league, it was more like my decision, because, after the Clippers told me they were going to draft a point guard their next year, I had the Wizards and Philly talk about bringing me into vet camp, but non-guaranteed, so I chose to go overseas, and Italy, and that's how I ended up across the water. That's where I broke my shooting hand; that was a setback, because, the difference is, had I broken my wrist in the league (NBA), I would have had a third year and still would have been in, because you can't get cut in the IL (injured list). That's why I said, it's part of timing, it's a lot of things that factor in with playing this game, and that was one of them.
InsideHoops.com: And that was when, 2000 or so?
Charles Jones: That was 2000-01.
InsideHoops.com: What was your favorite place to play overseas?
Charles Jones: Greece. Athens, Greece. By far. About 9 teams on the same place, so every game was about 25 minutes away. And you got 18 Americans, so if anything, you're at least going to find somebody you can get along with and talk to, play video games and what have you. You go out, and as far as Athens is concerned, it was more Americanized as opposed to Italy, you had two TGI Fridays, two Applebys, you had McDonalds, Wendys, everything you was looking for was there. They're trying to spoil you.
InsideHoops.com: It felt like home. Away from home, yet home.
Charles Jones: Yeah. I felt, I mean don't get me wrong, I loved Italy, and I wouldn't mind going back, but as far as being able to adjust, like me bringing somebody from the States and them being able to get around...
InsideHoops.com: It's easy...
Charles Jones: Athens. People are a little more friendlier, and they speak English, they speak a little more English.
InsideHoops.com: And now you're here, and how old are you now?
Charles Jones: I'm 27. I still got some years.
InsideHoops.com: You'll keep right on playing.
Charles Jones: As long as they pay me, I'll keep on playing basketball.