Arkansas guard Mason Jones signs with agent for NBA Draft

HawgBeat’s coverage of Arkansas basketball is brought to you by CJ’s Butcher Boy Burgers, which has locations in Fayetteville and Russellville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Mason Jones will be represented by Creative Artists Agency (CAA) in the 2020 NBA Draft, seemingly ending any hope Arkansas fans had that he would change his mind and return for his senior season.

Although the NCAA recently passed legislation that allows players to obtain agent representation during the draft process and maintain their eligibility, it has to be with an approved agent and the CAA does not appear on the organization’s «Certified Agents» online directory.

This should not come as a surprise, as Jones had already left little doubt about his decision. Without signing with an agent, though, there was still a chance for him to have a change of heart.

If he had decided to return, it would’ve meant the Hogs are over the limit by one scholarship for 2020-21 after signing two graduate transfers last month.

Instead, the star guard’s decision means the Razorbacks must replace their leading scorer for the fourth straight year. Dusty Hannahs was the last top scorer to return, when he helped them win 26 games and nearly reach the Sweet 16 in 2016-17.

«Mason had a phenomenal season,» head coach Eric Musselman said in a statement when he originally announced he was declaring. «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.»

Arkansas must now await a final decision by sharpshooter Isaiah Joe – who is testing the NBA Draft waters – to know if it will have to replace its top two scorers for head coach Eric Musselman’s second season. Reinforcements are on the way, though, in the form of four Rivals150 signees, the two aforementioned graduate transfers and three sit-out transfers becoming eligible.

Jones was more than just a scorer for Arkansas. He was the only SEC player to lead his team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals this season and the first UA player to do so since Sidney Moncrief in 1978-79.

Jones led the SEC and ranked eighth nationally in scoring at 22.0 points per game, plus averaged 5.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.7 steals. Those numbers helped him earn SEC Co-Player of the Year and honorable mention All-America honors from the AP in what was one of the best individual seasons in school history.

Had the Razorbacks been able to continue playing in the postseason, Jones might have made a run at Todd Day’s single-season scoring record of 786 points set in 1990-91. Instead, he finishes with 683, which ranks seventh. In terms of scoring average, Jones’ 22.0 points rank sixth on the UA single-season list. They were the most since Day averaged 22.7 in 1991-92.

With a free throw early in a win over Tennessee, Jones became the 44th member of Arkansas’ 1,000-point club – but just the eighth to do so in his first two years with the program. It was his 61st career game, making him the fifth-fastest player to reach the mark, according to HogStats.com.

What made Jones particularly dangerous is that he is a capable scorer in many different ways. He shot 35.1 percent (68 of 194) from three-point range, giving him 204 points, and was an efficient 53.9 percent inside the arc, giving him 246 points.

A good chunk of those came on drives to the basket, which also got him to the free throw line a lot – where he shot 82.6 percent. Jones broke Moncrief’s 41-year-old single-season record with 233 free throws. The only other player to score at least 200 points each on two-pointers, three-pointers and free throws this season was Marquette All-American Markus Howard.

With 1,146 career points, Jones finishes 28th on Arkansas’ all-time scoring list. However, his career 17.6-point average ranks sixth in school history.

Despite putting up incredible numbers for the Razorbacks, most NBA Draft experts project Jones as a late second-round pick if he’s drafted at all.

Sign up for an annual HawgBeat subscription and get $50 for Arkansas gear on the Rivals Fan Shop ––> details

College Students, get a year of HawgBeat coverage for just $11.95. Request details via email from your school account (.edu) to nchavanelle@yahoo.com.