It may be three years away from now, but projected first round 2021 NBA (National Basketball Association) draftee Bahamian Kai Jones is hoping to get the Bahamas senior men’s national basketball team in the 2024 Summer Olympics, to be held in Paris, France.
Tomorrow night is a huge night for the center/forward as he sits in the green room with his family and waits to hear his name called at the 2021 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. If he is drafted, he will become the third Bahamian currently playing in the NBA, joining the Sacramento Kings’ Chavano “Buddy” Hield and the Phoenix Suns’ DeAndre Ayton in the league.
“The Olympics will be in 2024,” Jones said. “By that time I will be 23, a grown man. I will be a problem and Ayton and Hield will be better, so I think we are going to be an issue. Hopefully Klay Thompson will be able to play, but we are going to have a solid team. We are going to have more than enough to qualify for the Olympics and medal.”
The Bahamas has a strong pool of professional and college players that can help the country have a strong basketball team participate at Olympics. However, like in recent times, the difficulty is getting players to be available and to play during the qualifying window. However, if the team can advance through the different paths, Bahamians can see a strong team in Paris.
Basketball in The Bahamas has seen a growth as more Bahamians play in the NBA and professionally in Europe, Asia and South America. With Ayton’s brilliant run through the playoffs that saw him and his Suns losing 4-2 to the Milwaukee Bucks, The Bahamas gained a lot of exposure. Jones love the attention that the NBA has picked up in The Bahamas.
“It is awesome seeing the enthusiasm and the fan base grow,” Jones said. “People are paying more attention to the NBA and it is inspiring to the kids back home as it was inspiring to me.”
The former University of Texas Longhorns player is no stranger to social media. He said that he has gotten a lot of support from younger Bahamians through that medium.
“In The Bahamas, the support is huge. I feel it everyday and every time I post that I am in the gym or something, young Bahamians hit me up and ask me ‘How do I get there? What do I have to do? Do you have any advice?’ I always try to reach out to them and talk to them,” Jones said.
“It keeps me going too and is a motivating factor, because I want to continue to show them that with hard work, consistency and having a warrior spirit you can conquer and do anything you want to do. I understand that I am inspiring the people who are coming after me. It is huge for me to have fans from The Bahamas.”
He said he has patterned his play after the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant. He had a good sophomore season this past season in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division I. The 20-year-old has shown that he can be efficient from the field. This past season, he shot 58 percent from the field, including shooting 38.2 percent from deep. Jones made his first 14 field goal attempts this season. He averaged 8.8 points per game, 4.8 rebounds and .92 blocks in 22.8 minutes per game in 26 games played. The 6’ 11” player was able to walk away as the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year award last season.
A son of the soil who loves the represent his country, he will definitely be able to help give the Bahamas senior men’s national basketball a push in the right direction – once available. For now, he will be patiently waiting to hear his name called at the draft tomorrow night.
The NBA Draft will be shown live on ESPN and ABC beginning at 8 p.m. tomorrow.