Sports fans may not remember Popeye Jones, the journeyman NBA forward, but his son currently has all the attention leading up to the NHL Draft.
Seth Jones, just 18 years old, is considered one of the top two prospects for NHL teams heading into Sunday’s draft, but it will not be his skills alone that turn heads. He is poised to become the highest selected African-American in the sport’s history.
First beginning to learn to skate under a figure skater to develop the necessary skills as a bigger player, Jones has blossomed into an elite talent and scored 56 points for the WHL-champion Portland Winterhawks this past season.
In a league where the vast majority of the players are white and many are foreign, the black Texas native has a chance to become an iconic figure in the league and perhaps draw increased interest to the sport.
It is a role Jones is not shying away from. “I do know that if I can help set an example for any kids or help them get started in the game, I’d like to do that,” he told the Dallas Morning News. “I don’t mind trying to be a role model.”
Many are projecting Jones to be selected second overall by the Florida Panthers.
Projected to go #1 overall to the Colorado Avalanche is Nathan MacKinnon, an elite forward who could make an immediate impact.
With Jones seen as the likely #2 to the Panthers, the Tampa Bay Lightning, Nashville Predators, and Carolina Hurricanes round out the top five with Jonathan Drouin, Aleksander Barkov, and Valeri Nichushkin the prospects projected by CBSSports to be selected in that order.
Unlike the NBA Draft held Thursday, the NHL Draft Class of 2013 is considered strong, particularly at the top. The draft is being held Sunday at 3pm ET in New Jersey and can be seen on NBCSN.