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Christian Jones opts to leave St. John's to explore options

Jones will pursue a pro basketball career but also explore transfer options.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

First it was Amar Alibegovic, and now the final member of the Steve Lavin era is moving on.

Christian Jones officially opted to leave St. John's on Tuesday evening, as the undersized big man is set to graduate and will explore his options both professionally and on the transfer market.

"It has always been a goal of mine to play professional basketball so I plan to explore all of my opportunities," Jones said in a statement. "I am going to work hard over the next month to position myself for the best available option, but I do not intend to sign with an agent. I would like to thank our entire coaching staff and administration for their support through this process."

"We wish Christian much success in his future," Chris Mullin said. "We appreciate his contributions to our program and support his decision to move in a new direction."

If Jones does decide to play college basketball, he will be automatically eligible as a fifth-year graduate transfer.

Jones averaged 9.4 minutes per game during his freshman season, redshirted in his second year on campus and barely played during Lavin's last year on the job. In 2016 under Mullin, Jones turned the tables and had the best season of his career. He averaged 8.4 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game in 25.2 minutes while he developed a solid mid-range jump shot and gained much needed aggressiveness on the interior.

In the final four games of the season, Jones hit his stride. He averaged 17.5 points per game against DePaul, Creighton, Providence and Marquette and had a career high 29 points (while added seven boards) in the first round of the Big East Tournament against the Golden Eagles.

The 6'7" forward was physical, athletic and played with a lot of desire, but he lacked the size of other Big East big men and his range did not extend beyond the three point line. Jones proved that he certainly can be a factor against high major competition, which should give him a plethora of options if he does indeed decide to play college basketball next fall.

Jones is likely taking advantage of the NBA's new rule that gives college players the opportunity to "test their stock," attend the combine (if they are invited) and work out for other pro teams, while also still having the option to keep their eligibility. The forward is likely not going to receive much NBA interest but he could take a peek at the D-League and possibly overseas.

Like Alibegovic, Jones would not have maintained a big role during the upcoming season due to the Johnnies' depth. Yankuba Sima, Darien Williams, Kassoum Yakwe, Tariq Owens and Richard Freudenberg will control the paint and the staff is expected to be active with transfers.

The Johnnies now have three scholarships remaining.