Lamont 'MoMo' Jones granted waiver

Iona junior guard Lamont "MoMo" Jones was granted a hardship waiver Thursday that will make him eligible to play this season after transferring from Arizona.

Jones announced in May he wanted to play closer to home in Harlem so he could be near his grandmother.

"Family comes first," Jones said in a statement. "I'm excited to have the opportunity to play at Iona College this year with some tremendous players that I've known for a while, but in the end, I'm happy to be home and happy to be able to help my family through this tough time.

"I'm grateful to the NCAA for granting the waiver which allows me to be nearer to my family and to be able to complete my degree in two years instead of three."

Jones was the starting point guard on an Arizona team that won a Pac-10 championship and reached the Elite Eight last season.

"We add another quality guard to our backcourt and experience at a high level," Iona coach Tim Cluess said, noting Jones' experience playing in big games. "He's been where our team wants to get."

In his first season with the Gaels, Cluess led them to 25 wins and a championship game appearance in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. Jones adds to a team that already returns its top four scorers, including the MAAC's leading returning scorer and rebounder Mike Glover and one of the nation's better assists men in Scott Machado.

It wasn't certain Jones, who averaged 9.7 points and 2.4 assists as a sophomore at Arizona, would be given a hardship waiver until now.

"We were all hopeful," Cluess said. "We really didn't know. It's a great surprise for all of us."

Iona was already the consensus favorite to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title this season. Among the returnees are forward Mike Glover, who averaged a double-double (18.4 ppg, 10.1 rpg), and Machado, who was second in the country in assists per game (7.6).

Diamond Leung covers college basketball for ESPN.com and can be reached at diamond83@gmail.com. Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Kieran Darcy was used in this report.