Former Arizona guard and Iona alum Momo Jones
By Tom Ballato
Lamont “Momo” Jones bursted into the scene in 2009, when he became a member of the Arizona Wildcats. A scoring point guard, Jones made a splash in 2011 when Arizona beat Duke, who were led by Kyrie Irving in the Sweet 16. The Blue Devils were overpowered by Jones and company.
At the conclusion of the season, Jones left the program to be closer to home in New York. He committed to Iona, where he would make go on to finish a strong collegiate career. Jones finished top 3 in scoring his senior season.
I talked to Jones about his college and professional career which he has described as an unforgettable experience thus far.
You began your collegiate career at Arizona. In 2011, you guys blew out Duke in the Sweet 16 to reach the Elite Eight where you lost to the National Champions UCONN Huskies by 2 points. Describe that run you guys made that season.
That run was amazing. Kind of unexplainable. I think at the start of the season we were the only ones that believed we had the ability to go that far and make some real noise nationally! We were just a group of guys that really got along and had each other’s back! It was a real brotherhood that year. It was like we had known and played with each other for years with the chemistry we had to. Most importantly we just had hungry player, guys that had something to prove and guys that wanted to be the best. We really believed we were the best team that year! Obviously we came up short, but was it one fun year!
From playing Memphis to the end of the round in Anaheim in front of basically our home crowd was amazing. At that point in our lives, I don’t think any of us had the first class treatment we received during the tournament which made it that much better!
At Arizona you played with Derrick Williams (who was the #2 pick in 2011), Solomon Hill (a first round pick), and Kyle Fogg ( an elite overseas player), who have all gone on to have great professional careers. You were also coached by Sean Miller who just started at Arizona around that time. Did you guys know from the start you had something special at Arizona?
I mean I think that first year we were all there it was hard to believe we had something special! After that freshman year and the following summer, we knew we had something. We knew we were building towards something special because we were all committed to working together and trying to turn around the ship that we knew if we stayed the course something big was going to come, as it did!
You transferred to Iona after 2011 to move closer to home in New York City to be with your family. Your first season at Iona you shared a backcourt with Scott Machado and received an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament. How did you two connect and get it to work?
As far as me and Scott go we were very familiar with each other obviously both coming up in New York and playing against each other throughout the years. Coming up I was very known and established as a young kid and throughout the years Scott had grown to have the name he did and was really doing big things with leading the country in assists and putting Iona back on the map.
I think when I came that just further helped me put Iona over that hump and break through to where they/we wanted to be. He was the assist guy and I was the scorer. I had the experience coming off a big NCAA run and being a intricate part of that run. So I brought something to the team that no one else had. I also respected the pecking order when I got there. I didn’t come with the mindset that I was better than everyone, but more so to fit in and add my talents to a team that was already good. I think in doing that helped us work together very well! I checked my ego at the door and played my part and contributed in the ways I was needed to rather then forcing things and trying to be the man because of where I was coming from.
In 2013, you were named MAAC Player of the Year and were the nation’s third-leading scorer with 22.6 points per game. Did that help you get any invites to summer league or training camps?
I had my fair share of workouts for the league, went to mini camp with Portland and Dallas. I definitely think being one of the top scorers in the country helped with the process, although it didn’t go how I would have liked it, the league wasn’t my only dream and so at the end of the day those things still helped me to live out my dream of playing professionally. Playing over the water and experiencing things I never could have dreamed of as a little kid.
Where have you gone on to play professionally since you graduated Iona?
Since Iona, I’ve played in Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Finland, Montenegro, and Germany! I’m actually in my second year in Germany! Last season, I played in Weissenfels, Germany for a not so good team, but finished 4th in the league in scoring which helped me sign a two year contract this summer to play for Ludwigsburg which was final four team in Germany and in the basketball championship league last year! So it is safe to say my career is going great and I’m still scoring that rock at a high clip!
I’ve been fortunate enough to have played in 25 countries in my first 5 years after college. Once again something I a kid from Harlem could never have dreamed of in a million years!
Where are you now and what do you hope to accomplish this season?
Right now I’m actually headed to Italy for a few days to participate in a preseason tournament out in Sardinia, Italy. It’s actually my first time in Italy so I’m excited about that! As far as my goals for this season it’s to win, to get back to the playoffs, and continue to get better. Be better then I was a year ago. Right now my coach has me focusing solely on the defensive side of the ball, so I’m hoping to cause havoc with that part of my game this year. I have a 3 month old daughter and my girlfriend is out here this season, so I’m just trying to maintain being a family man, managing my time as well as I can between my career and family is one of my goals as well this year. Of course it’s always a goal to be one of the top players if not the top player/point guard in my league! That’s always been the goal and will forever be the goal!