MORGANTOWN - Had Kevin Jones hinted before the season began that it might be his last in college, no one would have been surprised.
That the West Virginia junior did it after the Mountaineers' season had ended Saturday, well, that perhaps caught some off guard.
Jones did not have the type of season that generally conjures thoughts of an early departure for the NBA. And while he didn't bring up the subject, neither did he dismiss the possibility that Saturday's 71-63 loss to Kentucky in the NCAA tournament was his last college game.
"I haven't really thought about it,'' Jones said. "I guess I'm going to take it up with my brother and coach [Bob] Huggins, meet with them. I just want to make the right decision, what's best for me. And I don't want to make any quick decisions that could affect my life in a bad way. I haven't thought about it at all, but I guess I'll take care of it.''
Obviously, though, skipping his final season at West Virginia is an option.
"Yeah, I'm like a lot of college athletes. I would like to play at the next level,'' Jones said. "But then again, I just have to see what's right for me and if I'm ready to make that decision. Like I said, I'll talk to [Huggins] and my family and see what's the right decision for me.''
Jones is 6-foot-8 and 260 pounds and has put on 40 pounds of muscle since he arrived at West Virginia as a freshman. He is without question much better equipped physically to play in the NBA than he was when he entered school.
But almost across the board Jones' statistical numbers declined or remained basically the same this season as compared to last, even though he was expected to carry a larger load in the absence of three starters from last year's Final Four team. Instead, teams were able to concentrate more on Jones this year and at times his numbers reflected that.
Jones' scoring average actually dropped from 13.5 to 13.1 points per game and his rebounding went up just slightly, from 7.2 to 7.5 per game. All of his shooting percentages dropped, including a decline from 52.1 percent to 44.6 percent overall. Even though he was on fire at the end of the year when he made seven of his last 10 3-pointers and 18 of his last 20 free throws (a run that followed immediately after he had missed 10 in a row), his percentages in those two categories dropped from 2010 - 40.4 to 30.1 on 3-pointers and 66.1 to 60.4 on free throws.
Then again, strong 6-foot-9 players who can get offensive rebounds (Jones is 12 away from the school's career record) and perhaps shoot from the outside are still a commodity in the NBA.
Jones says he has no real timetable for making a decision.
"I'm not trying to rush anything,'' Jones said. "I love West Virginia University and I'm looking forward to coming back my senior year. But it is an option and just like every other college athlete, of course I'd like to explore the options as much as I can and see where it takes me.''