The 23-year-old caught the eye as the Mariners won promotion from the National League last term via the play-offs, scoring 16 goals in all competitions.
He has returned to Blundell Park to complete the season with Paul Hurst’s side, meaning it won’t be until the start of the 2023-24 campaign before he links up fully with his new team-mates.
However, Jones said: “We tracked a lot of players and the supermarket we shop in, that’s one of them, in terms of getting players at the right price, the right age and being able to develop them.
“He’s slightly older than what we normally do, to get in and develop, but we feel there’s massive scope there.
“From the upbringing he’s had, we feel there’s a player in there, but it just needs a little bit more development to get him out.
"Once we get that quality out and he dip backs into us training wise, we’ll get a bit of time with him then we can evaluate the pathway for him.”
McAtee had come through the ranks at Shrewsbury Town, but after loan spells with Halesowen Town, AFC Telford United, Ashton United and Curzon Ashton, he went to Scunthorpe and was eventually released by the Iron at the end of the 2021 campaign.
Dropping into non-league and attempting to work his way back into the Football League when joining Grimsby was something that Jones could definitely relate to as well, as he continued: “When you drop out of the league it can go one of two ways.
"I've been there myself, I was at Cardiff for three years and dropped out of the league and it gave me an added hunger and a desire, and to be fair my desire was through the roof anyway.
"So that’s hopefully what the boy’s done.
"I can’t say about in the past and what’s happened to him or why it didn’t work out for him at Shrewsbury, but he’s gone, he’s done well and then he’s attracted a lot of interest.
"We were fortunate enough to get him, I think he sees what we do here with players, so we were able to get him to sign.
"We’re relatively excited about it in terms of having to go back as part of the deal, but we can be a little bit patient with what we’ve got in the building already.”
One of the plus points behind McAtee’s move back to Cleethorpes is that there will be no extended settling in period for the forward, as he knows exactly what is needed having started the opening League Two game at Leyton Orient last weekend, a 2-0 defeat for his side.
Jones said: “We know the work that Grimsby do, I know the work that Paul (Hurst, manager) does, so it’s effectively trusting them with our player really.
"They have done good work with him up until now so we just felt it was the right thing to do to continue that.
"They can always push and say they want to go a League One side, or a side that is pushing for this or that, but at the end of the day, as long as he gets good development, then that’s what we’re looking for.”
With McAtee’s efforts for Grimsby easily available online, Town fans have already been getting excited about just what kind of player they could be watching next season.
With tongue firmly in cheek, Jones added: “You’ve got too much time on your hands if you’re watching YouTube.
"I’m doing a job here, but I would imagine he’s got some real good highlights.
"I think I could probably have a good reel on YouTube, I had about 10 good moments in 23 years, so if you put the whole 10 of those together and pop them up on YouTube, I could maybe get a move myself.”