DeQuan Jones competing for spot with hometown Hawks

There is a slam dunk champion in Hawks training camp.

DeQuan Jones is hoping his high-flying athleticism and his defensive versatility will land him a roster spot in the NBA.

Jones, from Stone Mountain and Wheeler High School, played last season in the Italian Lega Basket Series A, where he was named to the All-Star Game and won the slam dunk contest. The forward signed a non-guaranteed training camp deal with the Hawks last month and is one of six players competing for a lone roster vacancy.

“I think it’s going pretty well,” Jones said. “I think I’ve shown them that I can guard multiple positions and my athleticism can be utilized to help the team win.”

Jones is a long shot but he does have NBA experience. After playing collegiately at Miami, he signed with the Magic as an undrafted free agent in 2012 and appeared in 63 games, including 17 starts, that season. He has also played in the NBA Development League and had a tryout with the Kings.

“He brings a physicality and an athleticism too,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “In open gym, he did a few things that were impressive. His attitude and his approach have been great. And he is somebody who has played NBA games. … It’s nice to have those guys in camp that are a little bit knowledgeable.”

Budenholzer has suggested the Hawks would carry 15 players out of camp. Jones is competing for that last spot with Lamar Patterson, Terran Petteway, Earl Barron, Edgar Sosa and Arsalan Kazemi.

Jones, at 6-foot-8, said his defensive ability is an asset in the competition. Budenholzer likes versatility and Jones said he has guarded the point guard through power forward positions.

“With the way the league is now, it allows a guy with my size, in some cases, to guard one through four,” Jones said. “That is my biggest mindset going in and it’s what I have to prove to them.”

Jones, 25, was The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Class AAAAA player of the year as a senior at Wheeler in 2008. He is glad to be back home and his mother is making a few more family dinners with her son back in town. But it was the Hawks’ player development system that was most attractive to Jones.

He and many others around the league saw DeMarre Carroll come to Atlanta as a little used player and two years later sign a free-agent contract with the Raptors worth $15 million a season.

“Aside from representing my city and state, it was the new revival of the Atlanta Hawks culture and atmosphere,” Jones said of his decision. “Given the previous success from past years, everybody is excited about this new team. It’s something I wanted to be a part of.

“Coach Bud does a great job of utilizing a player’s attributes and strengths to a team. Seeing DeMarre’s growth and development, it’s exciting playing for a coach that takes that initiative.”

Jones played with the Hawks during open gym for several weeks during the summer. Soon after, he got a call to sign a training camp deal and jumped at it. He will get an idea of where he stands when exhibition games begin next week. The Hawks open against the Cavaliers in Cincinnati on Wednesday.

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