If it wasn't already the favorite to win the MAAC and reach the NCAA tournament, Iona College assumed that role when junior point guard Lamont "Momo" Jones today was granted a hardship waiver by the NCAA that makes him eligible to play for the Gaels this season after transferring from Arizona. Jones is a difference-maker who led the Wildcats to the Elite Eight last March before they lost to eventual national champion Connecticut.
The Harlem native transferred to be closer to home and his ailing grandmother. The NCAA recognized his situation as a family emergency and waived the normal requirement that a transfer sit out one season.
"Family comes first," Jones said in a statement from Iona. "I'm excited to have the opportunity to play at Iona College this year with some tremendous players that I've known for a while, but in the end, I'm happy to be home and happy to help my family through this tough time. I'm grateful to the NCAA for granting the waiver which allows me to be nearer my family and to be able to complete my degree in two years instead of three."
Jones averaged 9.7 points and 2.4 assists while starting 38 games for Arizona last season. He scored in double figures 17 times with a high of 27 in a triple-overtime win at California, and he also had 16 in a Sweet 16 win over Duke. As a freshman, he averaged 6.6 points.
In his first two years of high school, Jones attended Rice High in New York. He then transferred to American Christian School in Aston, Pa., where he averaged 25.4 points as a junior, and then moved on to Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, where he averaged 21.3 points and 8.0 assists for a team that went 41-1. That made him one of the top recruits in the country.
Iona coach Tim Cluess (pictured) led the Gaels to a 25-12 record and a spot in the MAAC final last season. Jones joins senior forward Mike Glover and senior guard Scott Machado to form the nucleus of what figures to be one of the best teams in the New York metropolitan area.
"I'd like to thank the tireless work of many people at Iona, including my staff and our compliance administrators for their assistance in preparing the waiver," Cluess said in the statement. "The NCAA is also to be commended for its due diligence in the decision-making process to allow Momo to play."