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The ‘other’ Derrick Jones receives invite to NBA dunk competition

Phoenix Suns rookie and Union midfielder have more in common than their names

NBA: Phoenix Suns-Media Day Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While 19-year-old Philadelphia Union midfielder Derrick Jones appears poised to make his Major League Soccer debut this season, another Derrick Jones with ties to the area has parlayed his brief stint in the NBA into an invite to the league’s dunk competition.

The Phoenix Suns rookie, whose full name is Derrick Jones Jr., grew up not far from where Talen Energy Stadium now sits in basketball-crazed Chester and starred at Archbishop Carroll High School in Radnor before heading west for a season at UNLV.

NCAA eligibility issues led him to leave college early and after going undrafted the 6-foot-7 small forward has worked his way up from the Development League to make two appearances this season for the Suns, including his debut against his hometown team in November.

Sound familiar?

The Derrick Jones in the Union organization starred at Bethlehem Steel FC last season, earning a first-team contract and a debut with the club in a friendly against Crystal Palace after playing in the Union Academy for three seasons. Just recently, head coach Jim Curtin said he wants to see the Ghana native pushing for more than just a place in the game day 18. And he’s received invites too, most recently to the U.S. U20 team for a trip to Costa Rica in December.

Athletes sharing a name with another athlete or celebrity, especially one as common as any combination with Jones as a last name, isn’t a rare phenomenon. Remember when the Union and the Phillies both had a Carlos Ruiz? Or better yet, have you ever Googled Chris Pontius and ended up on the Wikipedia page of a Jackass cast member’s profile instead?

The Derrick Joneses were born less than a month apart and both have been noted for their strength and athleticism. That they both have ties to Philadelphia gives area sports fans even more reason to hope that both continue their upward trajectory and make good on the talent and promise they have shown. All the while making Chester and the greater Philadelphia region proud.