Jones happy to stay in place with Yale
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.
Yale head coach James Jones.
James Jones coaches from the sidelines during Yale’s NCAA tournament game against LSU in March.