Texas forward Kai Jones will be a member of the Charlotte Hornets, after he was taken No. 19 overall in the 2021 NBA Draft on Thursday night.
Jones was actually selected by the New York Knicks, but the Knicks traded the rights to Jones to the Hornets just before the pick was made.
Jones grew into a potential first-round pick during his sophomore season at Texas. He declared early and hired an agent immediately, meaning that he left behind three years of eligibility, including one year related to COVID-19.
But Jones’ draft prospects never wavered once he started appeared in mock drafts this spring. At 6-foot-11, he possesses a rare blend of height and athleticism, along with a 3-point shot that improved from his freshman year to his sophomore year. His rise resembles that of Jaxson Hayes, who was an unknown quantity entering his freshman year at Texas and ended up being a lottery pick.
Jones averaged 8.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last season for the Longhorns, who won the Big 12 Tournament title for the first time and reached the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to Abilene Christian in the first round.
In his freshman season in 2019-20, which was cut short due to COVID-19’s cancellation of the NCAA season, Jones averaged 3.6 points and 3.2 rebounds.
Jones left Austin in the wake of one of the biggest coaching chances of the offseason, as Smart left Texas to take the head-coaching job at Marquette. Shortly after, the Longhorns hired Chris Beard away from Texas Tech, and Beard went about remaking the program using the transfer portal. He was able to keep two of the Longhorns’ most vital guards from a year ago, Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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