Raymonds, the assistant coach who played with Macauley in his years at St. Louis U. and who has taught Chones most of what he knows about the pivot, says: "He's no Jabbar, that's not fair. He isn't anywhere near the size of Jabbar, either. But Jimmy is learning how to conduct and influence a game the way Jabbar does. He's one of the few big men I've seen who gets stronger as the game goes on."
The pros who have seen and played with Chones are of a like opinion. Jon McGlocklin of the Milwaukee Bucks thinks he "could be a superstar in our league. He's got the offense, the defense, the size and the head for it. Could he turn a franchise around? We can't tell that yet. He has the ability to score, but there's no way to tell if he can make everything else happen. For that matter, how many players can?"
One NBA general manager was so impressed with Chones last year he had him first on his draft list ahead of all the eligible big-name seniors. A scout for another pro team—Jerry Krause of the Phoenix Suns—calls the Marquette center quite simply "the finest amateur basketball player in the world."
If nothing else, this kind of talk has made Chones intent on proving himself. "I don't think I had that good a year as a sophomore," he says, "and then we ended up losing when we shouldn't have. I may not look intense on the court but losing a game is like a year out of my life. I was hesitating most of last season but now I know I can be dominant. I've perfected the jumper from 15 feet. I've got the left-hand hook now, stationary or on the dribble. I'm practicing the power move down the middle. I'm going baseline more and leaning on people. I'm getting mean, you know?
"What I'm trying to do is take the best things from everyone and put them together. Kareem's hook. Hayes' turnaround. Russell's blocking shots. Chamberlain's team defense. Especially, I want to play the all-round game, smooth it, get a rhythm and a beat to it. Like Spencer Haywood—he's patient and mean at the same time. He plays the total game; it's a smooth passage from beginning to end."
Fortunately, Marquette will have Jim Chones from beginning to end this season. Luckily for the Warriors and all college basketball, he has elected to follow Spencer Haywood's performance on the court rather than off it.