Being the son of a former professional athlete can sometimes lead you to a life in professional athletics yourself. It happened with Wayne Gretzky’s son Trevor who recently signed a deal with the Chicago Cubs that was negotiated by his dad. For Team USA World Junior prospect Seth Jones, he too has a famous athlete dad although not quite on par with “The Great One.”
Jones’ dad is former NBA sixth-man Ronald “Popeye” Jones and while Popeye had a nice NBA career, his son Seth is shaping up to be one of the hottest defensive prospects in the NHL in years. At just 16 years-old, Jones was the youngest player at the World Junior evaluation camp in Lake Placid. The fact that he survived the first round of cuts and saw some prime playing time during the games at the camp speaks volumes to his talent.
Team USA head coach Dean Blais was very complimentary of Jones’ abilities after their 4-1 win over Finland last week, but he knows that a very bright future is ahead for the son of Popeye as he told Adam Kimelman of NHL.com.
“This kid is big and strong and smart way beyond his years,” Blais said. “He’s good down low, he’s strong. He certainly doesn’t play like he’s a ’94 (born).”
Blais said Jones has been so impressive, the coaching staff needs to keep reminding themselves of just how old he is.
“We talked about that today,” he said. “We keep saying, ‘This kid is only 16.'”
The frightening thought here for Jones is that this is the first of what could be many World Junior camps for him. At his age, he’s eligible to play in the World Juniors until he’s 20. It’s unsure yet if he’ll make this year’s team, but he’s shown that teams will be fighting with each other to try and draft him come 2013. Yes, he’s so young that he’s not eligible to be drafted for two more years. With all the attention being paid to him now, the hype surrounding him by the time the draft rolls around in two years could be off the charts for the 6’3″ 195 pound blue liner.
While Jones’ dad had a great NBA career as a sixth man with multiple teams, Seth Jones is shaping up like he could be a top pair blue liner when it’s time for him to arrive in the pros. When you’re getting big compliments all around, like the glowing words here from Chris Peters at the United States of Hockey, the bar is getting set especially high.
Seth Jones – The youngest player in camp might just be one of the best. Jones hasn’t looked out of place for a second. He assisted on Prince’s first goal with a smart shot from the point. Prince did wonderfully with the redirection, but it was Jones who gave him the opportunity. While he needs to build strength, Seth Jones has proven time and time again he is mentally ready for this tournament. The tools are there, but the brains are what separates him from every kid his age. He plays beyond his years.
If he can keep playing like this, he’ll be able to far exceed his dad’s celebrity as a pro athlete… Now to work on a fun nickname for the son of “Popeye.”