It was quite a year for Tennessee guard Jordan Bone.
Those who didn’t pay close attention may not realize what Bone meant to the Vols. What would normally be perceived as a tremendous junior campaign for any other upperclassmen in the SEC, is being covered up by the accolades and recognition from Bone’s running mates Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield. The further the microscope gets from Rocky Top, and the SEC, the more under appreciated Bone’s attributes become.
The Ensworth School product entered the 2018-2019 season looking to make more of an impact. It’s crazy to think that there was actually a debate in the fall about who would lead the Vols at point guard.
Bone and fellow redshirt junior guard Lamonte Turner split duties with Jordan Bowden, Chris Darrington and James Daniel III during their sophomore campaigns. After losing Daniel to eligibility and Darrington via transfer to Toledo, Rick Barnes and company quickly found themselves with limited options at guard. But it couldn’t have worked out better for Bone.
To make things even more interesting, the Vols learned after their third game of the season that Turner would miss some time due to lingering shoulder issues. There was no timetable on his return. It was then up to Bone and Bowden to man the back court.
In Turner’s absence, Bone thrived in the lead role at point guard and never looked back.
Bone averaged a respectable 23.1 MPG in his sophomore season. This past season, the junior averaged 9.8 more minutes per game. The huge bump in playing time equated into 362 more minutes: essentially nine more games.
The Nashville native also saw his field goal percentage rise from 39.1 to 46.5, despite more volume in shots. Bone averaged 13.5 points and 5.8 assists per game. He was also the team’s most reliable free-throw shooter, as reflected in his 83.5 percent from the charity stripe.
Bone’s assist to turnover ratio of 2.91 ended up good enough for 13th in the nation and first in the SEC. Out of the 12 players listed ahead of him nationally in that department, only three had more total assists.
To say Bone was Tennessee’s most improved player this year is an understatement.
Weighing in at around 175 pounds, the junior may be a little light for most NBA scouts. But what he lacks in weight, he makes up for in speed. Bone consistently showed flashes of elite speed and quickness. At 6-foot-3, he is long enough to create runners off the bounce. Compliment those attributes with a modest 35 percent career mark from outside the arc, and the result is a legitimate prospect for the professional level.
However, it doesn’t take much searching to notice that the Tennessee point guard is being left off draft boards across the web. One might be able to find him on a 76th edition of Steve’s 2019 mock draft at blog.whatever, but you get the point. Jordan Bone is seemingly not listed anywhere in 2019 mock drafts.
Sports Illustrated’s fifth edition of their top-80 rankings doesn’t even list Bone. Vols’ stars Williams and Schofield are listed as high as 14th and 30th, respectively, in CBS’s latest NBA draft rankings. For comparison, the SI list has Schofield at 45th and Williams at 46th. But Bone’s name is nowhere to be found.
For NBA teams looking to take a point guard, it’s Murray State’s Ja Morant and everyone else. The tiers can be broken down per taste of team scouts and owners, but to dismiss Bone in that deduction would criminal.
By entering his name in the 2019 draft, Bone has nothing to lose. Eligibility at Tennessee is not necessarily at risk by placing his name in the pool thanks to a new rule set in place by the NCAA. Underclassmen can now return to school after entering the draft, even if they sign with an agent.
It’s worth it for Bone to enter a draft where a bevy of point guards are flawed. Now that college basketball is coming to an end, scouts will have more time to analyze the field with individual workouts and the combine.
If they’re careful enough, potential teams might just catch a glimpse of what made Tennessee so special in the back court. They’ll have to look close, though, because it might go by in a subtle flash.