Perry Jones returning to school

Updated: April 11, 2011, 10:18 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Ohio State's Jared Sullinger started the freshmen trend of potential top 10 NBA draft picks returning to school.

Baylor's Perry Jones III has taken Sullinger's lead.

North Carolina's Harrison Barnes could be next as Barnes weighs his decision this week.

Sullinger made it known to his coaching staff throughout the season that he didn't want to leave. But Jones' decision was a surprise, especially considering he has to serve a five-game suspension to start next season as part of an NCAA penalty for accepting improper benefits prior to enrollment.

"His family is very much like the Sullingers,'' Baylor coach Scott Drew said Monday. "There was a lot of parental guidance in this decision. They wanted the best for their son and they didn't want him to be one-and-done. The potential [NBA] lockout also had something to do with this, like it might for everybody else.''

Jones' suspension was ill-timed since the first of the original six-game ban occurred on the eve of the Big 12 tournament. Baylor ruled the freshman standout ineligible prior to the Big 12 tourney game against Oklahoma. Baylor challenged the rule, but technically the school, not the NCAA, rules players ineligible and then asks for reinstatement. The NCAA reinstatement committee upheld the total suspension of six games.

The Bears then lost to Oklahoma, finished 18-13 and weren't invited to the NIT. Baylor chose not to pursue the CBI, sitting out the postseason after making the Elite Eight in 2010.

The 6-11 Jones averaged 13.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and started 30 games for the Bears.

"No one liked the way the season ended and he didn't want his collegiate career to end like that,'' Drew said. "He didn't play in the Big 12 tournament or a postseason tournament.''

The Bears lose only one key player off this past season's team -- senior guard LaceDarius Dunn, who led the Bears with 19.5 points a game. The Bears, who finished 7-9 in the Big 12, also have a stellar recruiting class led by forwards Quincy Miller and Deuce Bello.

Drew said leading rebounder Quincy Acy said to him Monday: "I hope no one ranks us at ESPN [or anywhere]. We've gone from NCAA tournament, to NIT championship game, to Elite Eight to seventh in the Big 12 and no postseason. Hopefully with Perry back we'll be in the postseason for sure.''

Drew said he can't say for certain that Jones would stay for his junior season.

"I can't say that, but we wouldn't kick him out, either,'' Drew said.

Senior writer Andy Katz covers men's college basketball for ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com