Jalen Jones may have made it to the NBA as a player with the Dallas Mavericks, but his career would not have been possible without the encouragement he received as a young child.
"When I was younger back in my youth days, a guy that went to college or a pro coming to the camp I was at really meant a lot to me," Jones said. "That allowed me the position to talk to the kids. It is very special to me."
That experienced has led him to giving back. On Wednesday, Jones made a stop in Nacogdoches to meet the young players at the Coach Kyle Keller Basketball Camp.
Jones was a standout at Dallas Kimball High School where he made the All-State team. Jones would go to SMU before transferring to Texas A&M where he would meet up with Keller who was an assistant for the Aggies.
"He was a big help to get me where I am in my career," Jones said. "That is why we have stayed in touch because he has been such a huge inspiration in my life. Coach Keller is all about the kids and developing the youth. He is always a positive role model for the kids."
After playing for Keller and the Aggies staff, Jones would go undrafted in 2016 but would find a spot in the NBA Development League and joined up with the Maine Red Claws. He has also previously played for the New Orleans Pelicans.
"Hopefully these kids will see that if you start right here at a young age then one day you could end up in the NBA like Jalen has," Keller said. "I have always told my players that they get to do this to give back and they are making a new fan. These camps give the kids a chance to look up to the guys they see at games and want to be like."
Keller still has one more opportunity for young players to be part of one of his camps. Info is here.
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