Former University of Kentucky star Terrence Jones, who has played five NBA seasons, confirmed reports that he will play the upcoming season in China.
In an interview posted Monday on Uproxx.com, Jones talked about his decision to sign with the Chinese Basketball Association’s Qingdao Eagles. It is reportedly one of the largest single-season deals for the league. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Jones’ one-year deal is for $2 million.
“I wanted to challenge myself and experience a new culture,” Jones said. “The CBA is growing and lots of guys go over there and have success. So I know there is a lot of opportunity in China and I just have to go out there with an open mind and be ready to contribute. … I’m just ready to do whatever they need me to.”
Jones, who was part of Kentucky’s 2011-12 NCAA championship team, spent most of last season with the New Orleans Pelicans. He reportedly requested his release after the team traded for DeMarcus Cousins, and later signed with the Milwaukee Bucks before being released again before the end of the season.
Jones averaged 11.5 points and 6.0 rebounds for New Orleans. He was scoreless in three short appearances for Milwaukee.
“It was a very humbling experience,” Jones said in the Uproxx interview. “One that I’d never had before but it was a great experience and one that molded me into a different person. Just having that struggle of not knowing when or how much I was going to play, the whole deal was hard. But, I just went in there to do whatever I needed to do. I came in early, shot extra shots, did whatever I could do but I think the situation was something that was out of my control. The organization as a whole was great to me.”
Jones didn’t elaborate, but he said this summer has been a difficult one for him. He compared it to his difficulties last season.
“I’ve been facing a lot of challenges in my life right now … So I’m just trying to take on this challenge as best I can, staying focused on the little things, not trying to let anything into my head and I think everything, if I keep praying about it, will take care of itself,” he said.
“Spiritually, emotionally, physically I feel like I’m doing what’s right and what’s important, and that’s getting back to basketball,” Jones said. “I’ve spent a lot of time this summer just becoming a better man, a better father, a better basketball player and it’s taught me a lot. It’s definitely very new, me taking on this new challenge of trying to be a committed father, a committed son, friend, brother, I just want to be a better person all-around. This summer, it hasn’t been easy, it’s been very hard on me.”
He still hopes a return to the NBA is in his future.
“I’m willing to take on that challenge every day to get that opportunity in the league,” he said. “I know it’s where I need to be.”
There’s much more in Uproxx’s interview with Jones — check it out here.