Momo Jones will leave Arizona Wildcats, destination unknown

ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24: Lamont Jones #12 of the Arizona Wildcats goes to the hoop against Kyrie Irving #1 and Mason Plumlee #5 of the Duke Blue Devils during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 24, 2011 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Arizona starting point guard Lamont 'Momo' Jones has decided to transfer from the Wildcats' men's basketball program, according to a release from the school.

"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."

Both Jason Scheer of WildcatAuthority.com and Jeff Goodman of FOXSports.com, reported the news Monday night, signaling the sophomore's departure. Writes Goodman:

Bottom line is that MoMo Jones would likely not have been able to accept his role when Josiah Turner beat him out early in the season.

Multiple sources said that they wouldn't be shocked if MoMo Jones wound up at St. John's and tried to get a waiver to play immediately.

It makes sense, and isn't a huge surprise from the rumors that have been circulating through the grapevine (though rumors are often a giant game of telephone). Jones would've been splitting time with Jordin Mayes, who improved greatly as the season wore on, and incoming freshman Josiah Turner, a Top 20 player coming out of high school.

Sure, some of the playing time would slide Mayes, Turner or Jones over to the shooting guard spot, but that position is equally as loaded for head coach Sean Miller's club. Oddly enough, it was Jones who hosted Turner, saying before the season he wasn't worried about anyone taking his job. 

And no, I don't think it would've been that easy to takes Jones' job, despite his struggles to learn the point guard position.

What kept Mayes out of the starting line-up was his defensive capabilities. Jones is a powerfully-built, strong-willed defender and most importantly, a competitor. Just check out his numerous game-winning shots in his two-year career at Arizona as proof.

Still, for someone like Jones, it does indeed make sense to leave the program even if he were able to retain his starting position (I think he had a better chance than some people think. Turner will have a huge learning curve as far as defensive effort goes, I believe). Minutes are a key part in contributing, and Jones needs a place where he can play over 30 per night to have a chance to get to the next level.

Experience and statistics are key, especially for someone who doesn't have the natural point guard instincts that scouts want. In essence, it's part of Jones' personality for him to have the spotlight on himself rather than a Josiah Turner. 

Is that a necessarily bad thing? I don't know. After all, the guy's goal in life is to get his family out of a rough neighborhood in Harlem. Could he do that playing 20-25 minutes for four years at Arizona? I'm not sure he could.

What I do know is that Jones has a history of changing his mind. He nearly committed to Virginia Tech out of high school, then chose USC, then finally became a Wildcat. Going back to high school, Jones played in the backcourt with former UConn Husky Kemba Walker at Rice High School before transferring to American Christian School his junior season. Then it was on to Oak Hill Academy for his final high school go-around.

In a recent New York Post article discussing Jones and Walker's relationship, one source said Jones left Rice to separate himself from Walker.

"MoMo wanted to be the man," said one person close to the situation. "With Kemba there, there wasn't going to be a man."

So Jones will likely head back home, and might avoid sitting out a year by filling out a waiver due to a sick family member, Goodman says.

An easy to guess destination for Jones is St. John's, which is close to home and has former Rice High School coach Moe Hicks acting as director of basketball operations.

With the news, Arizona now stands on par as far as scholarships go, making for no screwy situations in Miller's over-recruiting.

What do you think of Momo Jones deciding to leave Arizona? Is it good for him? For the program?

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