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Purdue basketball player Lance Jones trains with NBA’s Pacers, Jazz

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INDIANAPOLIS – When Lance Jones committed to Purdue basketball out of the transfer portal, there were skeptics.

A high-volume shooter from mid-Southern Illinois didn’t seem like the missing piece for a team that was on a short list of national title contenders.

What those skeptics didn’t know was that Jones never asked Purdue coaches about NIL. Never asked about possible playing time or a specific role.

Instead, Jones asked Purdue what he could do to help the Boilermakers win basketball games.

Now Jones, who averaged 11.7 points per game and started all 39 games for the NCAA runners-up last season, is asking the same question of NBA executives.

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Jones was in Indianapolis working out with the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday before heading to the airport to fly to Utah for a scheduled workout with the Jazz.

“The ride we had as a team at Purdue kind of helped me get to this point,” Jones said.

The Pacers have the Nos. 36, 49 and 50 picks in this month’s NBA draft. Utah owns picks 10 and 32. Jones is not expected to be selected.

But he hopes, just like he did in one season at Purdue, to turn heads and change the minds of anyone skeptical about what he brings to the basketball court.

At Purdue it varied.

Sometimes he was a defender with a lockdown ball. Sometimes a shooter. Sometimes a ball dealer and distributor. And always an energetic man.

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“It shows my versatility as a basketball player,” Jones said. “Just doing what the team needs. It helped me in the long run.”

There is a certain appeal to Jones for those who dig deeper.

How he immediately appealed to Purdue’s frenetic fan base. How he played with pain in his heart after losing his father last season. The 152 career starts in college, where he scored 1,971 points and made 285 three-pointers.

And how he ultimately was the missing piece for the Boilermakers.

“When I was in the portal, all I was focused on was getting to a winning team and helping that team win,” Jones said after practice on Tuesday. “What came with that came with that.”

What came with it was an opportunity for NBA teams.

“Reach for the stars,” Jones said. “Going to Purdue was the first step and helped me get into this position.”

Sam King covers sports for the Journal & Courier. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter and Instagram @samueltking.

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