Jones happy to stay in place with Yale

The News-Times - - SPORTS - By David Borges

James Jones grew up on Long Is­land, about 30 miles from the St. John’s cam­pus. His love of col­lege bas­ket­ball was born through the school’s hoops program.

So when St. John’s came call­ing for an in­ter­view for its head coach­ing po­si­tion, Jones was ready to lis­ten.

“Ob­vi­ously, I was in­trigued by the op­por­tu­nity,” he said. “I had in­ter­est, they had in­ter­est.”

Jones in­ter­viewed with St. John’s ath­letic direc­tor Mike Cragg on Thurs­day in New York (not on cam­pus), but the con­ver­sa­tions never got to the point of a de­tailed of­fer.

On Thurs­day night, for­mer Arkansas and Mis­souri coach Mike An­der­son got the job.

“It’s nice any­time any­body thinks you do a good job,” said Jones. “It’s cer­tainly flat­ter­ing to an ex­tent. There are few places worth hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion about, and St. John’s is one of them.”

But Jones is per­fectly con­tent to re­main at Yale, where he’s had un­prece­dented suc­cess over the past 20 sea­sons.

“Yale’s a won­der­ful place,” Jones said. “I have the best kids on the planet. We’ve built some­thing re­ally spe­cial here, and we’re com­mit­ted to im­prove where we are.”

Jones, 55, has led the Bull­dogs to a pair of Ivy League ti­tles and NCAA tour­na­ment ap­pear­ances

(the school’s first since 1962) over the past four years. Yale has fin­ished no worse than fourth in the Ivy League for 19 straight years. Two play­ers Jones re­cruited to Yale, Miye Oni and Makai Ma­son, could be se­lected in this year’s NBA draft.

Jones has three re­cruits on cam­pus this week­end, and he was a bit miffed about how word spread so rapidly that he might be leav­ing for St. John’s.

“You have a con­ver­sa­tion with peo­ple, things go side­ways and every­body thinks you’re leav­ing,” he said. “All this mis­in­for­ma­tion be­cause peo­ple are dy­ing for a story. When you’re deal­ing with stuff like this, it’s im­por­tant you keep it whole and the kids know you’re in­vested in them. The last thing I want is for the kids to think I don’t want to be here.”

Yale should be strong again next sea­son, par­tic­u­larly if Oni re­turns for his se­nior sea­son. The Bull­dogs will re­turn Jor­dan Bruner, Paul Atkin­son, Azar Swain and Eric Mon­roe back, along with a host of younger, talented play­ers who didn’t get as much playing time this past sea­son. They have two talented play­ers, 6-foot-7 for­ward E.J. Jarvis of Wash­ing­ton, D.C. and Au­gust Mahoney, a point guard from Albany, New York, join­ing the program.

Still, a lot hinges on Oni, who is go­ing through the NBA draft eval­u­a­tion process and has six weeks to fig­ure out whether to re­turn to school or go pro.

“He’s do­ing his due dili­gence,” said Jones. The NBA Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee has him go­ing in the latesec­ond round right now. If that changes, I’m sure his thoughts will change.”

One thing that won’t change: James Jones will be back pa­trolling Yale’s side­lines next sea­son.

Gerry Broome / As­so­ci­ated Press

Yale head coach James Jones.

Stephen B. Mor­ton / As­so­ci­ated Press

James Jones coaches from the side­lines dur­ing Yale’s NCAA tour­na­ment game against LSU in March.

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