Ex-Mountaineer Jones getting World Cup hoop team tryout

FAIRMONT — Kevin Jones is a man with options these days.

One of them — an opportunity to play for team Armored Athlete in The Basketball Tournament (TBT) — could have netted him a $112,000 share of a $2 million winner-take-all prize.

“It was tempting, for sure,” said Jones, a former WVU men’s basketball standout who took part in the annual WVU Alumni Game on Saturday, at Fairmont State’s Feaster Center. “I decided there were some different things I wanted to do this summer.”

That would be Jones’ other option and it may afford him a chance to represent the United States, at the FIBA World Cup.

Jones said he was leaving Wednesday for a training camp in Houston, where the final team will be announced.

Team USA, coached by former New York Knicks and Houston Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy, will consist mainly of professional players from the NBA G League and American-born players who have played overseas.

It will be a short training camp — the Americans have a qualifying game against Mexico, in Mexico City, on June 28. Team USA will then travel to Havana to play Cuba, on July 1.

“I’ve never been to Cuba before,” Jones said. “It could be a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me.”

Even before the two games in the coming weeks, Team USA qualified to move into the second round of FIBA World Cup qualifying play.

The ultimate goal for the U.S. is to advance past the second round and qualify for the 2019 World Cup, in China, which will also serve as a qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Games, in Tokyo.

“I’m not all that sure who all will move on to play in all the games,” Jones said. “For this round, I know they’re looking to keep 15 guys and 12 will play, so we’ll see what happens once I get to training camp.”

As for TBT, a yearly single-elimination tournament set up in the same fashion as the NCAA tournament with a $2 million prize split up among the players on the winning team, former WVU standout John Flowers said an attempt was made to get a WVU alumni team into the tournament this year, but it never materialized.

“Getting everyone on the same page can be difficult, because everyone has their own lives to deal with,” said Flowers, who organizes the annual WVU Alumni game and donates a portion of the proceeds to different charities. “We will have a team in it next year. We’ll get that done.”

Jones was contacted by Armored Athlete coach Adam Ross, who coached against Jones when Jones was a standout at Mount Vernon (N.Y.) High School.

“He’s also really good friends with (WVU assistant) Ron Everhart,” Jones said. “They told me I would be the perfect fit for the team they were putting together.”

Armored Athlete features former Louisville standout Preston Knowles and earned a No. 4 seed in the tournament. It’s first game is scheduled for July 20, in Brooklyn, against DC On Point, a team that features former South Florida forward Gus Gilchrist.

“We guarded each other a few times in college,” Jones said. “He was a talented guy.”

The finals of TBT are scheduled for Aug. 3, in Baltimore, and will be televised by ESPN.

“If I was going to play in it, I’d much rather have a WVU team in it and play with them,” Jones said. “It can be difficult to get everyone’s schedules to match up in the summer. For a lot of the guys who play overseas, the summer is the only free time, so we’ll just wait and see if we can get something going for next year.”

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