5 questions with Golden State Warrior, engineering science major Damian Jones

Photo courtesy of John Partipilo, The Tennessean

Engineering science major Damian Jones is a Golden State Warrior after Thursday night’s draft, selected No. 30 in the first round.

The jovial, 7-foot-tall Jones was the only engineer among the SEC’s top-ranked players this year — other than teammate and computer science major Luke Kornet – a fact not lost on sports analysts. He’s “a mix of physical and mental promise,” a San Francisco Chronicle sportswriter observed, noting Jones’ major.

Jones, who played center for Vanderbilt and leaves as a junior, says he’s committed to returning and completing the last few credits needed to get his degree. The opportunity to play professional basketball now was just too amazing to pass up.

A few weeks before summer break, we asked him about his time at Vanderbilt and the future.

What interested you in an engineering major?

As a kid, I was always pretty good in math and science — and pretty curious, so that counts.

In high school, I took a lot of related classes like digital logic and CAD and gained an interest in engineering. The summer going into my senior year (at Scotlandville Magnet in Baton Rouge, Louisiana), I was able to intern at Exxon in engineering. I thought I’d explore the field more in college and, if I didn’t like it, go into something else, but I ended up liking it even more.

Engineering is one of the toughest majors at Vanderbilt. How did you balance that with athletics?

I just did assignments as they came, early, and never waited until the last minute to get things done. I don’t like having a clouded mind. When you do things late, you forget things.

Does anything about engineering come into your mind when you’re on the court?

Not really. Basketball involves considering angles so I can make the shot, but I stay focused on what I’m doing when I’m out there. Even if people are yelling and screaming, I have to stay focused and continue to execute the plan.

You had a lot of scholarship offers for college. How did you decide?

When I came on my visit, I loved that Vanderbilt is in Nashville and is a great academic institution. With a degree from here, I’ll be able to accomplish a lot of things beyond basketball. I’ve always had a passion for basketball, so I’ll continue that as long as I can, and then I will start using my degree after that.

Little kids beg you for autographs after games, and we’ve seen you stay and give them out after the rest of the team has gone back to the locker room. Why do that?

I couldn’t not do it. If they tried to get an autograph and I didn’t do it, they would feel hurt because I’m right there.


Heidi Hall, (615) 322-6614
On Twitter @VUEngineering