CHICAGO — Dillon Jones wasn’t even supposed to be here.

The Weber State men’s basketball standout was in New Jersey, training with three other NBA draft hopefuls — Kevin McCullar (Kansas), DaRon Holmes II (Dayton) and Colin Castleton (Florida) — when the NBA combine and G League Elite Camp invites went out.

All three of the players Jones was working with received invites to the combine or G League camp, but Jones did not.

A week later Jones’ agent, Aaron Reilly, called Jones and told him that someone had dropped out of the G League camp. Jones got that spot and made his way to Chicago.

“That’s the way I got in,” Jones told the Deseret News. “It’s the craziest thing to me. But at least I got in.”

The G League Elite Camp, also held in Chicago in the days leading up to the combine, is much like the draft combine but includes players who are likely to go undrafted and are more likely to have to move their way up through the G League.

Only a handful of players from the G League Elite Camp impress enough to then get invited to the combine. This year, Jones was one of only eight players who did just that. Then after an impressive showing at the G League camp he also impressed at the combine.

During his week in Chicago, Jones has had interviews with 14 NBA teams — the Utah Jazz, Sacramento Kings, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns.

Weber State’s Dillon Jones, shown here competing in the Dee Events Center in Ogden, Utah, is among the prospects working out this week in Chicago at the NBA draft combine. | Weber State Athletics

In a scrimmage on Wednesday, Jones scored 17 points and showed off that he can do a little bit of everything. He handled the ball well, grabbed steals, drew charges, was a playmaker and wasn’t afraid to play through contact.

“My two biggest strengths are my IQ and my versatility,” Jones said. “I feel like I understand the game better than anybody out on the court every time I’m on the court.”

Those are the things that have stood out to front office executives this week at the combine. Admittedly, not a lot of the NBA minds knew much about Jones before this week, though he did have workouts with the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets before coming to Chicago. But, Jones has turned some heads after showing his potential as a versatile playmaker with a 6’6 frame.

“He’s got good size and is skilled with the ball,” one NBA scout told the Deseret News. “I think there’s still work to be done with his shot, but he definitely proved something this week.”

Jones shot 30.3% from 3-point range last season at Weber State and knows that he needs to improve his efficiency — it’s something he’s been working on a lot since the Wildcats’ season ended. And he’s not just focused on getting reps, but also tightening up his form and understanding the whys and hows of every piece that goes into a good shot.

Jones is not the kind of person who shies away from criticism. A native of South Carolina, Jones was not highly recruited coming out of high school, but he’ll be the first to admit that he still needed some refining.

“I wasn’t a complete player,” Jones said. “There was so much room for improvement and growth and there still is. I know that I can get better and can grow.”

Fellow South Carolina native and former Utah Jazz forward Jarrell Brantley is good friends with Jones and is the first person to vouch for Jones’ work ethic.

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“Dillon has a unique and versatile skill set and he loves to work,” Brantley told the Deseret News. “He is someone who focuses on the details and is always trying to learn more. I’m excited to watch his journey.”

That work ethic might have to be what powers Jones to the next level of basketball. In speaking with multiple scouts and executives, the consensus opinion seems to be that the 21-year-old should return to school for another year.

“He needs to lower his body fat percentage and clean up his shot selection,” a Western Conference front office executive told the Deseret News. “That’s just one opinion, but that’s what I’d like to see.”

It wasn’t just one opinion though. That’s what I heard from many people who were watching Jones at the combine. They liked what they saw from a skill standpoint, but they want to see him get into even better shape and edit his game a bit.

“The good news is that I didn’t know who he was before this week,” another executive said. “But now, I definitely know who he is, and we’ll be watching what he does.”

Jones hasn’t made a decision yet on whether he’ll forego his college eligibility and declare for the NBA draft, or if he’ll return to Weber State for another year. He said that it’s going to take a lot of thoughtful conversations with his agent, coaches, and those closest to him.

“You don’t need 30 teams to like you. You just need one,” Jones said. “I don’t care what the consensus is, because the consensus was that I wasn’t good enough to be here, and they were wrong.”

Even so, there are some really big decisions coming for Jones, but there’s at least one thing that he’s made his mind up about.

This summer Jones will graduate with his undergraduate degree, which will make him eligible to be a postgraduate transfer. That means that Jones could enter the transfer portal at any time and is not bound by the same date restrictions that undergraduate players are. He could transfer to a bigger school with more visibility or a higher profile.

But, Jones said that’s not happening. If he decides not to pursue the NBA this year, he said he’ll be returning to Weber State.

“Being at Weber is what got me here,” he said. “We play sort of a pro-style offense and it allows a lot of freedom and it’s read and react and making reads off actions and I’ve learned a lot about the game there. If I’m gonna stay in school, I’m staying there.”

For now, Jones leaves Chicago knowing that he made the most out of every moment and that at the very least, there will be a lot more eyes on him than there were before.