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Arizona’s MoMo Jones to transfer; his moxie will be missed

MoMo Jones celebrates after Arizona's 93-77 victory over Duke. Photo by Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Arizona Wildcats point guard MoMo Jones has decided to transfer from the program, the school announced Monday night.

“I would like to thank my coaches, my teammates and all of the U of A fans for making my two years at Arizona very special,” Jones said in a press release.

“After much thought, I have decided to pursue my goals at a school closer to home. My desire to be closer to my family, and in particular my grandmother, is the reason I am transferring. I want it to be known that I love this program, my coaches and teammates. I appreciate everyone for supporting me through this tough time.”

The transfer solves Arizona’s scholarship crunch, reducing the numbers to 12. Teams can typically carry 13, but the Wildcats lost a scholarship in each of the next two seasons because of NCAA violations.

And Jones’ departure thins a crowded backcourt and lets players more neatly fit into roles for next season, when coach Sean Miller adds touted point guard Josiah Turner and athletic shooting guard Nick Johnson.

Turner will be trying out for Team USA’s U-19 men’s basketball team next month.

How would Jones, who started all of last season at point guard, have reacted if he had to cede time to Turner? How would Miller have solved the playing time issues with Jones back at shooting guard? We’ll never know.

With Turner on board, and sophomore point guard Jordin Mayes coming off a solid freshman season, Jones’ departure isn’t a major blow to the program’s chances for next season. That should be a very good point guard combination.

But Jones’ experience, his moxie, his swagger — and his ability to sometimes score in bunches — will be missed.

He isn’t a classic pass-first point guard and he isn’t a brilliant shooter as a two-guard, but he is a good scorer (9.7 points per game last season) who never backed down in any situation.

Jones, from Harlem, N.Y., is the third player to leave the program early since last season. Sophomore forward Derrick Williams left for the NBA; backup freshman guard Daniel Bejarano decided to transfer.

Arizona fans are left with a couple of indelible memories of Jones — his running 17-footer to beat Stanford at the buzzer in his freshman season, and his 27-point effort in a triple-overtime victory at Cal last season (see video below).

Jones was a key part in getting the Arizona program back off the ground under Miller, so his value to the program in that regard can’t be overstated. It was only a two-year stay, but it should be fondly remembered.

Stats, pictures, quotes: A look back at MoMo Jones’ sophomore season

Here is how Arizona’s roster looks for next season, by class:

G Kyle Fogg
C Alex Jacobson
G Brendon Lavender
F Jesse Perry

F Solomon Hill
C Kyryl Natyazhko
G/F Kevin Parrom

PG Jordin Mayes

F Angelo Chol
G Nick Johnson
F Sidiki Johnson
PG Josiah Turner

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