It Took Aaron Jones(RETAbet Bilbao Basket) Time To Reach The ACB But His Chasing Greatness Will Continue

Aaron Jones is a 27 year old 206cm forward from Gautier, Mississippi that is playing his 6th professional season and first with RETAbet Bilbao Basket (Spain-ACB). He began his professional career with the Rhein Stars Koeln (Germany-ProA) averaging 11.5ppg, 7.2rpg, 1.0apg, 1.1spg, Blocks-2 (1.9bpg), FGP: 51.9%, 3PT: 38.2%, FT: 65.2%. In the following years he played with BC Beroe (Bulgaria-NBL) averaging: 12.5ppg, 7.7rpg, 1.3apg, Steals-5 (1.8spg), Blocks-2 (1.5bpg), FGP: 60.5%, 3PT: 22.9%, FT: 69.3%; 13.1ppg, 6.2rpg, Steals-5 (1.7spg), Blocks-1 (1.2bpg), FGP: 69.4%, 3PT: 35.4%, FT: 63.8% in the Balkan league. He also played with the Salon Vilpas Vikings (Finland-Korisliiga () averaging 15.6ppg, Reb-1 (11.1rpg), 2.3apg, 1.0spg, Blocks-1 (1.9bpg), FGP-1 (69.4%), 3PT: 32.3%, FT: 65.6%. With Lhasa Jingtu (China-NBL) he averaged 15.5ppg, 10.3rpg, 1.1apg, 1.3spg, 1.6bpg, FGP: 52.5%, 3PT: 26.7%, FT: 55.2%. With Rethymno Cretan Kings (Greece-A1) he averaged 6.3ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 65.9%, 3PT: 18.8%, FT: 56.5%. Last season he played with the HAKRO Merlins Crailsheim (Germany-BBL) averaging 11.8ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.9apg, Steals-5 (1.7spg), Blocks-5 (1.0bpg), FGP: 70.1%, 3PT: 26.3%, FT: 53.1%. He began his basketball career with Gautier High School and then played 113 NCAA games with the The University of Mississippi (NCAA). He spoke to before a Basketball Champions League game against Brose Bamberg. 

Thanks Aaron for talking to Congrats on reaching the ACB in your 6th season. You have come from a 3,1 ppg scorer in the NCAA to the ACB at age 27. Do you at times feel like your a Cinderella story? It isn’t often that a guy will go as far as you have coming from the NCAA with the type of stats you had.

I don’t know about a Cinderella story all I know that each team I go to no matter the circumstances I am trying to win as many championships as possible thats why I am Chasing Greatness and I am trying to reach the highest level of competition.

How excited are you play against a German team again with Bamberg? Last season you had a very strong season with Crailsheim.

Its the same story taking it day by day just trying to get better with my teammates and when the day comes when we play Bamberg hopefully that week in practice we prepared to win that game.

How did you experience COVID-19 the last 7-8 months. When you look back how well the easyCredit BBL produced a bubble in Munich, are you a bit sad you didn’t play?

I lived in Charlotte so the gyms were closed so I had to wake up a 4 am get ready to leave the house at 5am so I can be at the gym at 6am…That team we had in Crailsheim will always be a mystery of what if.

What were the biggest challenges for you personally back home in the States during COVID-19 on a regular day to day basis?With everything that you have experienced during COVID-19 how do you feel did it make you stronger as a man?

With covid it made me realize that family is more important than basketball…because imagine you losing people while playing. I lost my great grandmother earlier this year in January and I had to keep playing basketball

Your playing your 6th professional season and first with RETAbet Bilbao Basket . It took you 7 years to reach the best league ACB in Europe. If Koln manager Stephen Baaeck had told you in 2015 that you would be playing in the ACB in 2020 what would you have thought?

I always knew I could play on the highest level because I worked hard and played hard I always talked to my rookie season coach Arne Woltmann and he told me that everything that comes my way I deserve it.

I saw you play in Germany in 2015 and have to admit that I thought you were a nice player, but wasn’t totally impressed. Then I saw you hoop again last season in the BBL with Crailsheim and was totally flashed by your development. You made huge strides as a player. Do you feel like that having played in different countries each season and experiencing different styles and coaches was a big reason for your development?

Certain coaches allowed me to play how I wanted and I had success. I mean each country I went to and coaches had confidence in me and I produced. In Greece my role changed and the system didn’t fit my game but it was also a learning situation for me.for me growing up I watched Shaq so I wanted to be like him until I saw the game changing so I worked to have no weakness in my game.

On what area’s of your game are you working on most now so you can continue to make the next step in your career? You played against top Euroleague teams in Greece and are doing it now in Spain. What is still missing in your game so you can reach the Euroleague?

I work on everything from ball handling to shooting off the dribble to coming off screens because you never know what type of situation you will be in the game with so I will be ready for everything..For me to reach the Euroleague I feel like it’s just more time at the 4.

What has it been like playing for an organization that has 11 players from different countries. How do you feel has your game matured being bale to play with so many diverse type of players?

It’s easy to go to a team where it’s all our 1st season there and you can establish how you want to play or what but I am coming to a situation where my role is different and I have to adjust to it. My game matured a lot and I have room for improvement.

What kind of an experience has it been playing with Moses Kingsley. Another highly talented guy that is moving up the basketball ladder. What have you learned to appreciate most about his game?

I knew about Moses in college. He came to Ole Miss for a visit and I also played against him at Arkansas so I knew what type of player he was. It’s a respect thing because we played in the SEC. He plays hard and works hard.

Last season you played with the HAKRO Merlins Crailsheim (Germany-BBL) playing 21 games averaging 11.8ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.9apg, Steals-5 (1.7spg), Blocks-5 (1.0bpg), FGP: 70.1%, 3PT: 26.3%, FT: 53.1%. You had many great games, but was beating Alba Berlin in the last game 91-82 where you had 13/9/1/2/5 stats one of your most memorable?

I wasn’t worried about stats, but I was more happy that we won I did not care that it was Berlin or it was the second team at practice as long as my team won that’s all that mattered.

In the 2018-2019 season you played with the Rethymno Cretan Kings (Greece-A1) playing 22 games averaging 6.3ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 65.9%, 3PT: 18.8%, FT: 56.5%. Tal a little about how you experienced this season. Was winning the last 5 games and registering 7 blocks against Euroleague powerhouse Panathinaikos your best memories that season?

My best memory of that season was winning the last game to save that club from falling to the second league

In 2018 you also gained some new experience playing with Lhasa Jingtu (China-NBL) playing 11 games averaging 15.5ppg, 10.3rpg, 1.1apg, 1.3spg, 1.6bpg, FGP: 52.5%, 3PT: 26.7%, FT: 55.2%. How did you adjust to the culture there and was ex NBA player Lamar Patterson a good outlet to getting away from China and just having that American vibe around you?

Yeah in that China season Lamar Patterson told me he liked my game and he told me shoot because I played hard and was playing on an injury.

In the 2017-2018 season you played with the Salon Vilpas Vikings (Finland-Korisliiga) playing 53 games averaging 15.6ppg, Reb-1 (11.1rpg), 2.3apg, 1.0spg, Blocks-1 (1.9bpg), FGP-1 (69.4%), 3PT: 32.3%, FT: 65.6%. How important was this season for your overall confidence? You led the league in rebounds and blocks in a league where many guys make the jump to higher leagues.

Coming into that season my confidence was already high I just wanted to continue winning.

You beat KTP Basket in 4 games, beat the Helsinki Seagulls in 4 games and in the final lost a bitter 6 game series against Kauhajoki losing the last game 99-96. Is that one of your more bitter loses in your career?

That last series was pretty tough I lost my grandfather the morning of game 2 and also I was injured real bad and I still played.

How special was the team around guys like Jaylon Brown and Javontae Hawkins who would later be your teammates in Crailsheim and Bilbao?

Jaylon Brown, Javontae Hawkins and Tobin Carberry. I would play with them for the rest of my career if I could that’s how special our bond was in Finland.

In the 2015-2016 season you played with BC Beroe (Bulgaria-NBL) playing 33 games averaging 12.5ppg, 7.7rpg, 1.3apg, Steals-5 (1.8spg), Blocks-2 (1.5bpg), FGP: 60.5%, 3PT: 22.9%, FT: 69.3%; and played 18 Balkan League games averaging 13.1ppg, 6.2rpg, Steals-5 (1.7spg), Blocks-1 (1.2bpg), FGP: 69.4%, 3PT: 35.4%, FT: 63.8%. You won the league title and cup that season. What made this team so special?

I got a finals MVP and that’s when my confidence rose in my pro career. We practiced harder than the game and that is when I stared figuring out things.

You had a 23/20 Kevin Love type game against Spartak Plevin. Did you feel more invincible in the paint on this day than usual?

We lost that game so them stats did not matter.

As a rookie you played with the Rhein Stars Koeln (Germany-ProA) playing 28 games averaging 11.5ppg, 7.2rpg, 1.0apg, 1.1spg, Blocks-2 (1.9bpg), FGP: 51.9%, 3PT: 38.2%, FT: 65.2%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie where you knew that you were very far away form home?

My wake up call was the first day I arrived and I did not see my wife and kids and I was wondering what did I get myself into.

You played at the University of Mississippi (NCAA) from 2011-2015. Was winning the SEC tournament in 2013 one of your greatest achievements there?

I tore my ACL that year so I felt like I did not help my teammates win it.

As a freshman you played 12 minutes in a 77-62 loss against powerhouse Kentucky that showcased future NBA player like Anthony Davis, Darius Miller and Michael Gilchrist just to name a few. What do you remember from that game and how do you remember presenting yourself on the floor?

I just wanted to have the same opportunity as those guys as a freshman

As a junior you averaged 27 minutes and made a new step in your game. Against Auburn you were half-way to a quadruple double. How did your game grow in this season?

Going into my Junior year I just wanted to continue to win games because I knew this was my last year playing with Marshall

How did Andy Kennedy groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?

He gave an opportunity to make that step from high school to college and hopefully teams call him and he puts in a good word for me

Who won a one on one in practice you or MJ Rhett?

If you put me in the wild with a pack of lion I am going to survive…I am winning that game of 1 on 1.

Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that would go on to play in the NBA?

I would have to say Jae Crowder my freshman year.

Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?

Brandis Raley-Ross, Javontae Hawkins, Jaylon Brown, Tobin Carberry, Dewayne Russell, Quincy Ford, Jeremy Morgan.

Please construct your personal own NBA Mount Rushmore with past or present heads?

MJ Kobe Kareem Shaq Magic Bill Russell

What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?

The Greatest of All time is Me

What was the last movie that you saw?

he last movie I watched The Blood Of Zeus

Thanks Aaron for the chat.

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