Jon Jones has conquered collegiate competition. There's nothing left for him at this level, which is good, because he's no longer allowed to compete in the NCAA anyway.
But as much as we've all been told that most NCAA athletes go pro in something other than sports, Jones has a real chance at further wins from the ring. The 2016 US Olympic Trials are just over a year away, and the 2015 USATF Outdoor Championships begin just under two weeks from now. On an international scale, a top-four finish at the US Championships would qualify him for this year's World Championships, and there's always the Diamond League, though I'm not sure what hurdles Jones would have to jump to gain entry.
Just for fun, though, let's take a look at the showing Jones could put forward right now. Without getting too worked up about it, let's use Jones' PR of 20.78 meters, and a more conservative estimate of a 20.30 meters.
Last year, the UB junior finished fourth at the USATF Championships with a throw of 19.95 meters. He was the highest-finished collegiate athlete, and would go on to top that mark several times in his senior year. Using this year's numbers, Jones' NCAA championship-winning throw would have won the 2014 USATF Championship, and even our more conservative number would have jumped him into second, ahead of two-time World Champion and Olympic Bronze Medalist Reese Hoffa.
A better look at this year's slate, though, would be USATF's current list of best marks for the year. Jones currently sits with the eighth-best (outdoor) throw of the year, third among collegiate competitors. His 20.59m throw in the Indoor National Championships places him fourth on the indoor rankings, as well.
Furthermore, Jones has been battling a knee injury that has kept him from full training for months. Apparently he hasn't taken a single squat in the weight room in months and has been severely limited even in the repetitions he's been able to take in the ring. Depending on the results at the National Championships, he'll either begin a ten-week recovery regimen right away, or wait until after the World Championships in September.
Given that, it's good for Jones that the Olympic Trials are a year away, but he would have made an appearance were they this year, regardless. In the 2012 Olympic Trials, UB's Rob Golabek finished 12th with a throw of 18.61m. Jones' present marks, a full two meters better, would have had him in the 5-6 range, but still a good half-meter off a trip to London.
The numbers look similar for an average Diamond League meet, though the IAAF series features 14 meets throughout the year and not one or two that athletes can work up to a peak. Still, Jones' numbers right now would put him in the middle of the pack at the sport's highest regular competitions.
Just for kicks, 20.78m (20.59 indoor) would have been good for seventh at the 2012 London Olympics, seventh at the 2013 IAAF Championships, and sixth at the 2014 IAAF Indoor World Championships. Of course, I'm only looking at the finals there, and not the qualifying flights that preceded them, but it's still fun.
The timing could not really be better: the Olympic Trials are a year away, giving Jones a shot while he's still just 25, and a second chance at 29, when he should still be in peak condition. Looking at international results, it seems the pride of UB could hold his own in most any field, but his biggest obstacle will be consistently finishing in the upper levels of US competitions. If he can add, say, half a meter - I have no clue how realistic that is - he could be a regular contender among America's best. The first step on that mission is in two weeks.