Living and attempting to succeed in someone else's shadow is never an easy thing to do.
But that hasn't been the case for Fort Wayne Mad Ants guard Cameron Jones, who, despite being the cousin of NBA guard Landry Fields, is quickly making a name of his own. And he's using the D-League to do it.
After spending training camp with the Miami Heat last season, Jones turned heads with a strong rookie campaign with the Mad Ants. The young gun out of Northern Arizona averaged 14 points, shooting an impressive 45% from the field (and an even more solid 43% from downtown). His efforts were enough to land him on the "NBA D-League All Rookie" first team.
So as he looks to build on his success, whats next for Jones? What are his plans for next season? Take the jump for a Q&A with the Mad Ants guard in which he discusses his hopes and goals for the upcoming season, growing up with Fields, and who he's been working out with this summer!
Q: Cameron, how do you feel your first season in the D-League went? Obviously you found some success, but what things are you looking to improve upon next season?
A: As an individual, I felt like my first season went really well. Making the "All Rookie" first team was great. As a team, though, I know we struggled throughout the season. It's a learning process because you just have to go out there as a group and keep playing hard. No days off. We play against some really tough competition.
Being in training camp with the Heat really helped me though. I learned a lot, being able to play against some of the best players in the world. I'd like to continue getting more efficient as a scorer, and improve my defense next season, too.
Q: As you touch upon your strengths and perhaps recognize a weakness in your game that you'd like to improve, how do you feel you could potentially help an NBA team? What do you bring to the table?
A: Obviously my shooting ability, but also my course work. I'd like to think I'm a very smart player because I'm able to understand the game. Right now, I'm focused on working towards getting to the free-thow line more efficiently, and getting physically stronger as my career goes on.
Q: As we talk about some of your goals, do you have any idea what you'll be doing next month? Are you looking to be in camp with an NBA team, or are you simply more focused on getting ready for the Mad Ants' season?
A: I'm not really sure about training camp, because I'm still waiting on stuff. The Mad Ants are definitely an option for me, and I'm also looking at some places overseas too. But I wouldn't mind going back to Fort Wayne, because the D-League has great competition and it's probably the best shot at being called by an NBA team.
Q: It sounds like you believe the D-League gives up and coming players the best opportunity at breaking in to the NBA.
A: Nowadays, that's probably the best opportunity. There are things overseas, but the advantage to playing in the D-League is that you're right here in America, able to play in front of everybody. Our games are broadcast on the website and stuff like that. It's different than playing in Europe.
Q: You mentioned last season you faced some tough competition. Obviously there are a bunch of NBA-level type guys just waiting for a shot, that you go head-to-head with. I have to imagine you played a lot against your cousin, Landry Fields, growing up too.
A: Yeah, I mean, Landry is basically my brother. I played with him in high school, and against him in college too. He's been my mentor growing up and especially this past summer. He's been pushing me and helping me get better. Being able to play with him is great because he's in the NBA already and knows what to expect. He definitely helps me out as much as he can.
Q: In addition to Landry, have you worked out with any other NBA players this offseason?
A: I've gone out with Josh Childress. We've worked out at the gym together. But other than that, you just see different guys come through every now and then.
Q: As hard as you've worked this offseason as you look to improve your game, what other fun things have you been doing to enjoy your summer?
A: I like the "Batman" trilogy. Obviously the third one just came out this summer, and it was probably one of the best movies I've seen. Landry and I are also pretty avid "Call of Duty" fans. That's our favorite game. So we like to play ball and then go in and play some "Call of Duty." That's pretty much our lifestyle.