Dwayne Jones signs with Phoenix Suns

Former Saint Joseph’s forward Dwayne Jones was signed by the Phoenix Suns today, giving the fifth seed in the NBA’s Western Conference depth in the low post for the final five games of the regular season and the playoffs.

Jones, a 2005 graduate of St. Joe’s, made 48 starts this season for the Austin Toros in the NBA Development League, averaging 17.6 points and a league-leading 16.0 rebounds per game. He had 44 double-doubles on the season and scored in double-figures on all but two occasions.

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He was named to the Western Conference All-Stars and scored 13 points and grabbed seven boards in the All-Star game in February.

He passed a physical with the Suns today, and will be available to play in Wednesday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs.

Jones was undrafted out of college, but had brief stints with Minnesota, Boston, Cleveland, and Charlotte. In total, he has logged 80 career games in the NBA, averaging 1.3 points, 1.3 rebounds, and 7.9 minutes per game.

The 6-11 forward/center was a major contributor at St. Joe’s and was a part of the 2003-04 Perfect Season. He averaged a double-double (10.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game) as a senior en route to collecting Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year honors. He’s always carried a reputation as a bruiser in the low post and a strong defender.

He will add depth for the Suns in the low post along with forwards Amare Stoudemire and Taylor Griffin and centers Louis Amundson, Jarron Collins, Channing Frye, and Robin Lopez.

Clark was sent down to Iowa, Phoenix’s NBDL team, just three weeks ago, while Griffin has also bounced between leagues this season. Lopez injured his back several weeks ago and hasn’t played since March 26. He’s opting for rest and will be re-evaluated before the playoffs begin.

Frye and Lopez had taken turns in the starting lineup, while Amundson has seen action in 74 of the team’s 77 games. Collins has only played a minor role this season, seeing time in 29 games.

Jones was rumored to be close to securing a contract with Smart Gilas, a developmental Philippine national team, for the last two months. Inclusion on the team would include Filipino naturalization and a chance at the 2012 Olympics in London, but Jones has instead opted for a chance to play in the NBA.

The Suns are tied for fifth in the Western Conference in a four-way tie at 50-27. Just three and a half game separate the seeds two through eight.

Jones is the 34th call-up from the NBDL this season and he is now one of 79 players to have played in the NBA’s minor league.

– Matthew De George ’10

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