"It's All About The Game"

Remembering Head Coach Will Jones

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Stephens, Featured Writer

DMV coaching icon passes.

 

March 25, 2014 - Washingtonian, Head Coach Will Jones passed away on March 12th in Virginia Beach, Va. falling to cancer.

Coach Jones according to his contemporaries was one of the first to use the jump shot as his primary weapon during his basketball career to complement a hook shot.

Jones graduated from Dunbar High School in
Washington, D.C. in 1956. Will led the city in scoring
and was named to the All City team his senior team.

Upon graduating from Dunbar he received a
scholarship to American University.

Coach Jones played at American University from
(1957-1960) leaving the school as the all-time leading
scorer with 1,982 points. Jones currently ranks number
three on the all time American career scoring list. In
his final game Jones exploded for 54 points against
Evansville.

In his senior year Coach Jones was selected as a first team All- American his senior year in what would be considered now as Division II.

After his playing career ended at American, Coach Jones was selected in the NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers as the 81st pick. Coach Jones was also selected to participate in the Olympic Trials in 1960 and 1964.

The outpouring of affection for Coach was evident at his celebration of life last Friday.

Dereck Wittenburg (DeMatha) director of player
development at N.C. STATE remembered his first
encounter with Coach.

“I met Will when I was 18 playing in AAU and he told me "You got too much fat on your knees you gotta get better. “He along with my high school coach (Morgan Wooten) challenged me to get better”.

(Wittenburg who played at N.C.State would later
score 14 points as State won the 1983 NCAA
Basketball championship).

Kevin Broadus, assistant coach at Georgetown University remembers Coach like it was yesterday.

“The first time I met him I was told 'You don’t know any ball youngin', but it all worked out”. Broadus was at UDC for 4 years with Coach Jones.

“He had one of the most brilliant minds of anybody I have met. He also was one of the most caring persons you
will ever meet”.

Todd Bozeman current head basketball coach
at Morgan State: “I was a youngster when I met Will. He was always a mentor and gave an encouraging word. I could always call him about the game when I was at Cal, he was always there. We are going to miss Coach. We're going to miss you coach”.

G'Town head coach John Thompson III wanted
to honor Coach Jones for himself and his father, John Jr. who had a prior commitment to broadcast the NCAA tournament.

“He was always around" he said. "Coach was someone
my dad looked up to. Someone pops always respected”.

During Coach Jones' tenure at UDC he led the 1982 NCAA DIVISION II NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!

The Firebirds defeated Florida Southern 73-33 behind
7’ Earl Jones (24) pts. and 6’7 Michael Britt (20) pts. as
UDC came into the national spotlight. The following
year the Firebirds lost to Wright State (Ohio) 92-73
in the champonship game.

Coach would leave UDC to finish his career at
Norfolk State and retiring with a career record of
288-197.

He returned to D.C. in 2007 when American
University retired number # 11 along with his induction
into the Hall of Fame. In 2012 UDC’s national championship team was Inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Full disclosure from this reporter:

The first time I met Coach Jones I was with the late Ron Sutton sports director of WHUR. After listening to Coach the first five minutes I’ll never forget Coach took a phone call and I asked “Is he like this all the time"? The response was "You haven’t heard nothing yet!". Later that evening I got to see the teacher and coach at work and I was thoroughly in awe watching him work the game.

The last time I talked to Coach Will, Jeff Jones was
leaving American for Old Dominion. I walked in and he asked “ Do you know Will Jones.” I replied that I had seen him several times but I hadn’t talked to him in a while. Jeff says “ Will, I have somebody in my office you may know him”.

At the time of our first introduction, I was the youngest broadcaster on a commercial radio station and was introduced as “Young Boy” to Will.

“Will, it's Young Boy that worked with Ron Sutton
I said. “Oh yeah whats up? How are you doing”? he resonded.

"Everything is fine" he said. “How’s that boy ? (son)".

At that point Will says "Jeff can you send me (some gear)?...Great. Now m**&^#@%er I know you got a closet full of s*#@t send me some gear m$*&#@er. You got my shoe size"?

“I got it” Coach said Jones. 'I got you Coach, 14"!

“Send that s#@t first class, I ain’t no second class m&^*%$#er" ordered Will.

Jeff turns and looks at me, saying "That’s my man, love him to death”.

“Yeah I was surprised he remembered my son” was my next comment. “I’m not” declared Jeff.

Coach Will Jones will be missed.


 
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