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Pelicans’ Herb Jones Eager to See the Home Folks at Birmingham NBA Game

Herb Jones won the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 4A Player of the Year Award for the 2016-17 season when he led Hale County to the AHSAA championship.

Then Jones played four seasons at Alabama, and he concluded his college career with the Crimson Tide as the SEC Player of the Year and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year for the 2020-21 season.

On Thursday, Jones will be back in Alabama when the New Orleans Pelicans play the Houston Rockets in an NBA preseason game in Birmingham.

“I’m super excited to get back into the home state,” Jones said on Wednesday. “Hopefully, I see a lot of my friends and family in the stadium. I’m going to get to talk to them after the game. But, yeah, I’m super excited to get on that plane and get there.”

The Pelicans and Rockets tip off at 7 p.m. CDT Thursday at Legacy Arena.

“I think once they figured out the date, I had at least 20 or 30 text messages,” Jones said. “But I know a lot of people from my hometown, Greensboro, are going to come up and watch the game, and I think that’ll be pretty cool because a lot of people from Greensboro don’t normally get to see a professional team play, so I think it’ll be cool for them to come up there and see us play. …

“They might have a bus because I think it’s like 50 to 75 people that I know for sure are coming.”

Since his previous game in Alabama, Jones has signed a four-year, $53.828 million guaranteed contract with the Pelicans, who chose him in the second round of the 2021 NBA Draft.

“It was pretty simple on my end,” Jones said. “I wanted to stay. I want to be here in New Orleans, so that was, I guess, the easy part. I didn’t try to get too caught up in the numbers even though you get a lot of, I guess, external advice on the amount that I should have signed for. But any amount that the Pelicans decided to give was going to be life-changing for me and my family, so I wasn’t super pressed on trying to get ‘X’ amount of money. I just wanted to be in New Orleans, so I could continue to play basketball with my guys.”

Jones has averaged 9.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 assists in 144 regular-season games with New Orleans. He has started his past 128 regular-season appearances plus six postseason games.

Jones’ defensive ability against the best players in the NBA has given rise to a rallying point for the Pelicans as they say: “Not on Herb.”

New Orleans tipped off its postseason on Tuesday night with a 122-105 loss to the Orlando Magic. Jones had 11 points, five rebounds and one block in 15:58 on the floor. His four baskets included two 3-pointers as he went 2-of-3 from beyond the arc.

“That was a heavy emphasis going into the summer, just being able to knock down that corner 3,” Jones said, “because I know guys typically will want to help off of me out of the five guys on the floor – that starting five – and I got to be able to knock down shots to open up the game for those guys.”

The Pelicans are working toward their 2023-24 season-opening game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Oct. 25.

After playing the Rockets in Birmingham, New Orleans will have two more preseason games – on the road against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday and the Magic on Tuesday.

Source : Alabama