Training camp hasn’t even begun, but the Maine Red Claws are already adjusting their NBA Development League roster — and in the process brought in a home-grown product.
The Red Claws announced two trades Friday, acquiring Husson University’s Josh Jones, who grew up in Jefferson and played at Erskine Academy, from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, and D-League veteran center Anthony Kent from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
In return the Red Claws sent third-round pick Charles Okwandu to Rio Grande and fourth-round pick Sadiel Rojas to Fort Wayne.
Jones, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound forward, could barely hide his excitement at the opportunity to play pro basketball in his home state.
“It is amazing; it is just amazing,” he said. “I am definitely excited to get there.”
Jones was a center in high school at Erskine, then played at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield. From there he played a year of junior college in Illinois, then a year at a Division II school in Odessa, Texas, before returning to Maine to play at Husson, where he scored 947 points in two years.
He was the North Atlantic Conference player of the year last year, averaging 19.2 points and 11.4 rebounds.
“We’ve sent, I think, six players to Europe in the 18 years I’ve been here,” said Husson Coach Warren Caruso, “and Josh has the greatest passion for the game and desire to become a professional of all of them.”
Jones knows he’s going to need all that passion, along with some serious ability, to stick with the Red Claws, who open training camp Nov. 11.
“I think, realistically, I’ve got to play with heart,” said Jones. “I feel the next two weeks, I’m going to play like it’s my last game. Because obviously if I don’t make it, it might be. I’ve definitely got to knock down my shots. But the biggest thing is I’ve got to play defense and take charges.”
The Red Claws first saw Jones in a tryout camp in Boston in September.
“We were impressed with his athleticism, his court sense and his ability to get to the basket,” said Jon Jennings, the Red Claws’ general manager and president. “There are definitely areas that he has to work on, but that’s what this league is about.
“He’s got an opportunity to come in and play hard and do everything he needs to do to make this team.”
The Red Claws also announced the return of Paul Harris, the former Syracuse forward who was the team’s first-draft pick in 2009. Harris bought out his contract midway through last season and played in the Philippines, where he averaged 26.6 points and led the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters to the Commissioner’s Cup championship. The Red Claws retained his rights.
“I think Paul made a lot of progress last year,” said Jennings. “And we’re very happy that he’s able to come back and continue to develop as a player with us.”
The acquisition of Kent, a 6-10, 225-pound center, gives the Red Claws some veteran size. A graduate of Ball State, Kent has played the last three seasons with the Mad Ants.
“He’s a great investment for us,” said Jennings. “We all like the way he plays.”
The Red Claws will bring 14 players into training camp, including five invited from their tryout camps in Boston and Philadelphia. Ten will make the roster.
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: [email protected]