After learning he was selected in the NBA Developmental League draft Thursday night, Josh Jones received even better news Friday afternoon.

The Erskine Academy and Husson University graduate was traded to the Maine Red Claws on Friday. It’s a long way from the Texas-based Rio Grande Vipers, who drafted him in the sixth round before trading him for third-round pick Charles Okwando of the University of Connecticut.

“I found out (Thursday night),” Jones said of the trade. “I didn’t know who I was getting traded to. It’s just mind-blowing. It’s wonderful.”

Jones was one of 30 players out of a group of nearly 500 who signed a D-League contract after attending a two-day national tryout in August. He later worked out for three D-League teams, including the Red Claws who saw him at a one-day camp in Boston.

“We were very impressed with his overall athleticism and ability to get to the basket,” Red Claws president and general manager Jon Jennings said. “He has some areas he needs to work on. We wanted to bring him into camp and provide him an opportunity to make the team.”

The Red Claws, who are affiliated with the Boston Celtics, have invited 15 players to camp, including two returnees from last year. They must cut that number to 10 by Nov. 23, two days before the season opener.

The 6-foot-4 Jones played small forward at Husson for two years. Last season he averaged 19.2 points and 11.4 rebounds a game to help the Eagles to a 21-7 record and a berth in the Division III national tournament. He was named North Atlantic Conference Player of the Year, as well as being named Player of the Year by the Maine Men’s Basketball Coaches and Writers Association.

“He’s averaged a double-double over two years,” Husson coach Warren Caruso said last spring. “The greatest thing about Josh is he contributes in so many ways.”

Jones, 24, has been working out twice a day in the Bangor area, paying particular attention to his perimeter shooting and ball-handling skills.

“The perimeter shooting is one area he’s got to work on,” Jennings said. “In order to make the NBA, you’ve got to be able to put the ball in the basket at his size.”

Jones thinks his presence on the team could lure fans from the Bangor area and northern Maine, where he’s worked camps, to Red Claws home games at the Portland Expo.

“I’ve still got to do it,” he said of making the roster. “Getting traded for a third round pick is kind of big. I need to prove them correct.”

While Jennings conceded it’s nice to have a home-grown player on the roster, that’s not why the team traded for him.

“I don’t think it had anything to do with being from Maine or from a school in Maine,” he said. “That would be a disservice to Josh. Seeing him is what got him into the fold.”

Trimming the roster is an ongoing process, Jennings said, beginning after players report Friday. Should Jones get cut, he’ll be placed in a player pool and be eligible to be picked up by any team in the league.

Before Husson, Jones played for the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, a Division II school. He also played for Olney Central College of Illinois in 2006 and Maine Central Institute in 2005. A Jefferson native, Jones graduated from Erskine in 2005 and helped the Eagles to a Class B state championship in 2004.

He’s planning a draft party at 8:30 tonight at the Sea Dog Restaurant in Bangor and said “anybody and everybody is invited.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]


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