CHICAGO -- Point guard Jordan Bone jumped higher than Russell Westbrook, ran faster than Derrick Rose and elevated his draft stock to a new level following the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.
No player at the NBA Combine topped the charts like Bone, 21, who placed first among all players in the standing vertical leap (36 inches), shuttle run (2.78 seconds), lane agility (9.97 seconds) and three-quarter sprint (3.03 seconds) events. Crunch the numbers, and Bone posted one of the best combine performances… ever.
But Bone’s story goes beyond his freakish athleticism, as he credits his 30-year-old brother, Josh, for his development on and off the floor.“I feel like he was placed in front of me for a reason,” Bone said. “I can’t stress enough the impact he has on my life.”Josh Bone is nine years removed from playing in the Elite Eight, when the Volunteers squared off against Tom Izzo, Draymond Green and the rest of the 2010 Michigan State Spartans. After playing professionally overseas, he now serves as the video coordinator at Tennessee State.Growing up, Jordan admired the passion, competitiveness and drive that Josh had for the game of basketball. He looked up to his brother -- and still does.“The things that he’s taught me, right from wrong, how to stay focused and level-grounded throughout this entire process,” Jordan said.Jordan is on the brink of an NBA career. His stock has never been higher than it is now. In 10 days, he will announce his decision to either return to Tennessee or enter the NBA Draft. An influence like Josh is integral to Jordan’s development during the most important stage of his basketball career.“I have a great family. I have really good supporters,” Jordan said. “But Josh has been there with me, he’s gone through this process, not necessarily the NBA process, but he was just like me, a guy that wanted to make it to the NBA.”In his third season under head coach Rick Barnes, Jordan averaged career-highs in points (13.5), assists (5.8) and rebounds (3.2). His year-to-year shooting percentage skyrocketed from 37.2 percent to 39.1 percent to 46.5 percent, too.
Some of that has to do with Bone’s supporting cast, a group chock full of NBA talent, including guard Admiral Schofield and forward Grant Williams. Some of that has to do with Josh, who tirelessly trains with his brother in the summer.
“When it comes to basketball, he’s the hardest worker I’ve ever seen,” Jordan said of Josh. “The way he’s impacted me with basketball has been tremendous and I really can’t put it into words.”
Most of Jordan’s improvements have come from within, with his own offseason workouts already paying dividends at the combine. He knew he would be the fastest and the most agile -- that was a given.
Bone’s vertical leap, though, was a bit of a surprise, as he never had leapt above 40 inches until posting the record-setting, 42.5-inch mark.
“It increased two and a half inches,” Bone said. “That’s wild. Keep working how I’m working, you never know what’s going to happen.”
Just the chance to perform in front of scouts and front offices was enough for Bone to thank the NBA. Not only was he grateful for the combine invitation, but he also made every effort to take advantage of it.
“My entire life, I never had anything as far as the opportunity to show what I could really do as a player,” Bone said. “Nothing has been handed to me. I work for everything that I receive. That’s all I needed, was an opportunity.
“I showed the player that I am, the God-given talent, speed and athleticism that I’ve been given and many people didn’t know that I had this.”
Josh Bone, however, always knew what his brother was capable of achieving, a testament to the relationship he has with Jordan through basketball and life.
“Josh means the world to me,” Jordan said. “He’s going to stay with me until the ball stops bouncing, and after that.”