James Jones
James Jones
Position: The Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach

James Jones has made quite an impact on the Yale basketball program. In nine seasons, Jones has guided Yale to success not seen in New Haven in 40 years. In 2001-02, Jones led the Bulldogs to their first Ivy League title since 1962-63 and the first postseason tournament victory in the 107-year history of Yale basketball. The team won 21 games, the second most in the modern era of Yale basketball, and reached the second round of the National Invitation Tournament. Jones' success did not go unnoticed. He was named the Ivy League Coach of the Year by Basketball America and CollegeInsider.com. Following Yale's weekend sweep of Penn and Princeton, Dick Vitale selected Jones as his Coach of the Week. Jones, the longest tenured coach in the Ivy League, earned his 100th victory at Yale when the Bulldogs beat Columbia on Feb. 9, 2007. He is only the fourth coach in school history with at least 100 wins. His overall record at Yale is 117-134, including a 69-57 (.548) mark in Ivy games. The Bulldogs have won at least 10 Ivy games twice during his tenure and have had a .500 or better record in league play in each of the last eight years, which hasn't happened at Yale since the official start of Ivy play in 1956-57. Jones was named Yale's 22nd head coach on Apr. 27, 1999, and he immediately put his stamp on the program as the Bulldogs more than doubled their Division I win total from the previous season and improved to fifth place in the Ivy League. In 2000-2001 the turnaround continued as Yale entered the final weekend of the regular season in the hunt for the Ivy League championship. The captain of that 2000-01 team, Neil Yanke, signed a free agent contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004. Jones recruited Yanke to Yale as an assistant coach and then was his head coach for two years. In the 2001-02, Jones guided the Bulldogs to one of the most memorable seasons in school history. Yale finished 21-11 and earned a share of the Ivy title with Penn and Princeton. The Bulldogs upset Rutgers in the first round of the NIT before falling to Tennessee Tech at the New Haven Coliseum in front of the largest crowd ever to watch Yale Basketball in New Haven. In the process the Bulldogs set five school records. The 2,394 points scored was a new mark, topping the 2,089 scored by the 1948-49 team. The Bulldogs also set new records for three-pointers made (228) and attempted (671), and for most free throws made (558) and attempted (796). Several of Jones' players have gone on to play professionally overseas, including Ted Smith (England), Matt Minoff (Israel), Paul Vitelli (Italy), Dominick Martin (Spain) and Edwin Draughan (France). Draughan, who graduated in 2005, was one of the most successful players in Yale history. He finished seventh all-time at Yale in scoring with 1,413 points and second in steals and fifth in assists. One of Jones' goals when he took the job was to upgrade Yale's schedule, a promise he has delivered on. In 2001-02 the Bulldogs finished 1-0 against the Big Ten (Penn State), 1-0 against the ACC (Clemson), 1-0 against the Big East (Rutgers) and 1-1 against the Atlantic 10 (win over Rhode Island, loss to George Washington). In addition, Yale played in the inaugural Guardians Classic, a pre-season tournament. In 2000-01, Penn State became the first Big Ten school to play in the Payne Whitney Gym, and in 2003-04 Wake Forest came to Connecticut to play the Bulldogs at The Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport. Jones served as an assistant coach to Villanova's Jay Wright for the 2007 USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Team. He helped tutor Georgetown's Roy Hibbert, Michigan State's Drew Neitzel and Indiana's D.J. White. In 2006, Jones was selected by the USA Basketball Men's Collegiate Committee, chaired by Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, as a court coach for the 2006 USA Men's U18 National Team Trials. In addition to his coaching duties, Jones has been active in the New Haven community. Each summer he runs the James Jones Bulldog Basketball Camp. In 2002 he was the recipient of the President's Award from the Greater New Haven NAACP at its 85th Freedom Fund dinner. As an assistant coach at Yale for two seasons from 1995-97, Jones gained a great understanding of Ivy League basketball. He returned to Yale as head coach after two years as an assistant coach at Ohio University, where he was primarily responsible for coordinating the Bobcats' recruiting efforts and developing the post players. In 1998-99 he helped guide Ohio to an 18-10 overall record and a berth in the Mid American Conference Tournament semifinals. At Ohio, he recruited Brandon Hunter, who was a second round pick of the Boston Celtics in the 2002 NBA draft. A Long Island, N.Y., native, Jones served as an assistant basketball coach for five seasons (1990-95) at his alma mater, the University at Albany (N.Y.). In his final two coaching seasons at Albany, he helped lead the team to a 44-11 record and two appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including reaching the Elite Eight in 1993-94. His primary responsibilities included recruiting, scouting, supervising the fall conditioning program and advising team members on academic matters. The team was 93-40 during his five seasons on the bench. Jones graduated from Albany in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in communications and in 1995 earned his master's in educational administration. As a player at Albany, Jones was captain of the freshman team and was selected as the team's Freshman of the Year. He played for and coached with the legendary Dr. Richard Sauers, one of only seven collegiate coaches to win more than 700 games. Jones is an active member of several organizations, including the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the New York State Basketball Coaches Association and the Black Coaches Association. Before entering the coaching profession, Jones served as an executive account manager at NCR Corporation in Albany, N.Y., where he managed a $1.5 million sales territory. James' younger brother Joe is the head coach at Columbia. The only other time in Ivy League history that two brothers simultaneously served as head basketball coaches was from 1924 to 1928. Basketball Hall of Famer Ed Wachter was the coach at Harvard while his brother Leonard coached at Dartmouth in the Eastern Intercollegiate Basketball League, the forerunner of the Ivy League. The Jones brothers are one of two active brother duos coaching at the Division I level. Seth and Brad Greenberg are the head coaches at Virginia Tech and Radford. Research indicates that two brothers coaching within the same conference is extremely rare. The most notable tandem was Clarence and Hank Iba, who each coached in the Missouri Valley Conference from 1949 to 1957. Clarence was in charge at Tulsa while Hank coached Oklahoma State.