Domo Jones Right at Home On 3x3 Court
If you have ever watched Dominique “Domo” Jones play basketball — especially the 3x3 variety — you know that he is in constant motion, a bundle of energy always looking to find that little opening to drive to the hoop.
Now, Jones may have met his match in son Grayson, who was born in September 2019.
“I’ve never smiled so much in my life,” Jones said of being a dad. “My little man is energetic, and he’s reminded me a little bit of myself, I hear from everybody that watched me come up, so it’s pretty dope.”
Jones’ game is pretty dope, too. That is why he was one of the four players selected for the USA Basketball 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Team that will gather in Los Angeles this weekend for a three-week training camp. The team is making final preparations for the FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Graz, Austria, from May 26-30. The U.S. needs a top-three finish in the 20-team tournament to qualify for Tokyo, where 3x3 makes its Olympic debut.
In fact, if you talk with any of his USA Basketball teammates — Canyon Barry, Robbie Hummel and Kareem Maddox — they will let you know Jones is one of the most dynamic players you will see.
“Domo is really an explosive scorer and he’s really tricky to guard,” said Maddox, noting Jones’ creativeness with the ball and when trying to score. “I’ve played against him a lot. He’s always somebody you have to account (for), he’s always a threat to score and offensively that’s just so powerful.”
Among Jones’ 3x3 accomplishments is winning the inaugural gold in the 2019 Pan American Games and being named 2019 FIBA World Tour MVP.
While his 3x3 career has brought the opportunity for the 32-year-old to travel and play internationally and now possibly represent the U.S. in the Olympics, his road to basketball success hasn’t been as smooth as the courts he plays on.
Part of it has to do with his height. At 5-foot-9, he discovered that coaches at the next level were generally looking at players 6-foot and above. So despite averaging 17 points at Wadleigh High School in New York City in each of his last three years there — earning All-City honors as a senior — recruiters weren’t knocking on his door.
Jones ended up playing at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York for two seasons, which led to his final two seasons at Fort Hays State University, a Division II school in Kansas. He thrived at both levels and was named a State Farm-NABC All-American as a senior in 2010-11.
He said he never dwelled on not getting better opportunities. Rather, he took advantage of the situation he was in to show off his skills.
“I’m happy with the journey that I have had, but it wasn’t my (first) choice,” said Jones, who grew up in Harlem. “I had some great people in my circle that was helping me out and had some tutelage. When I didn’t get my Division I scholarships and things like that, I wanted to stay closer to home. ... Everything just kind of played out real smooth from there. ... It wasn’t the path that I envisioned for myself, but it helped me become a better basketball player.”
Jones — who earned the nickname “Disco Domo” from a streetball announcer who thought his game resembled a disco dancer — did play a little bit internationally in Germany and the Netherlands, but an injury and communication issues with his agent curtailed that part of his career. But thanks to 3x3, now fans across the world know who he is. FIBA’s 3x3 individual rankings list Jones as the ninth-best 3x3 player in the world and the top American.
“I’ve always played with a chip on my shoulder,” Jones said. “I’m not the biggest, I’m not the fastest guy, but I do have what I felt like was the biggest heart. I know the game, I think the game, so that’s one of my biggest assets when I’m playing. I’m pretty talented, but if you just look day-to-day, you would never know that I’m the kind of basketball player that I am. So you know, I just take that as a compliment.”
Meanwhile, Jones works as a development specialist for Rising Ground, a nonprofit juvenile justice program in the Bronx that attempts to get troubled kids back on the right path.
“Every kid is not as lucky as I am to have opportunities to go out (of the city),” Jones said. “Some of these kids made mistakes in their life. I’m just kind of there to watch and just hope things get better for them. If I’ve helped one person along in that journey, for me, that’s, that’s a win for everybody.”
Now Jones is trying to do something he only dreamed of, especially considering his basketball journey. By finishing in the top three of the FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the end of May, he would be a leading candidate to be on the team the USA Basketball competes in Tokyo.
“It is definitely surreal,” Jones said. “It’s something that I play for day by day, and just watching it come to fruition right now is so amazing for me.”
Steve Drumwright is a journalist based in Murrieta, California. He is a freelance contributor to USAB.com on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.