/Back to the future Mississippi College’s Mike Jones returns to coaching

Back to the future Mississippi College’s Mike Jones returns to coaching

He had already called his cellphone Tuesday afternoon. Jones was at the weight room, where his returning players were doing their workouts, when he answered his phone Tuesday afternoon. He said that he spent hours calling potential recruits the night before. Jones might be out-coached by some coaches next season. He will be outworked by few, if any. No one will be more intense. These traits made him one the most respected coaches in my life. It is evident in the record. His teams won 323 and lost 110 games during two previous stints at Mississippi College. His teams won 110 games at Copiah-Lincoln Community College and lost only 20 in four seasons. He was also a mentor to M.K. Turk helped to build the Southern Miss Metro Conference powerhouse. Nearly 80 percent of his games have been won. He has won numerous championships. He has won so many championships that he was inducted into Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame last July. He is now 65 years old. He was last coaching in 2008. Why not return? Jones replied, “Why not?” The relatively new president of Mississippi College, Dr. Blake Thompson asked Jones to think about it. Jones did. He spoke to his family. He also spoke to his doctors. This was an important aspect. He had already retired from coaching twice previously due to heart problems. He was given the green light by doctors. Jones also spoke to Don Lofton who succeeded Jones as head coach. He will remain on Jones’ staff. Lofton was open to it. Jones considered all aspects. He made the decision to return as a coach. He will continue to be the athletic director. Another way to put it is fish swim. Birds fly. Coaches coach. Mike Jones is a coach. When Turk was alive but had already retired from coaching, Turk and I watched Jones lead Mississippi College to a crucial playoffs win. It was almost like witnessing an execution. The Choctaws performed set plays flawlessly. They protected their territory with a relentless effort. They won every timeout. It was textbook basketball. Choctaw basketball players were not bigger or faster. They played together harder and more efficiently as a team. They were aware of their roles. They knew their roles and took the best shots. The best rebounders were in a position to do this. Screeners screened. The passers were passed. Everyone played defense. Turk asked me why Jones was coaching at this level, and not making millions in the ACC or SEC. Turk replied, “I don’t care what level it’s at, he’d be successful. His children do the right thing. He’s one the most respected coaches at every level.” Ole Miss’s Kermit Davy Jr. knows this. Davis said that Mike Jones is “one of the best college basketball coaches.” He is a tireless recruiter and a people person. His X’s, O’s and X’s are comparable to any coach at any level and he will be able get MC back into recognition at a national scale.” He will need to keep his intensity in check. He had to quit coaching twice due to health problems. After he quit, I still remember what he said to me. Jones stated, “I tried to do things differently the second round.” Jones said, “I tried to not be as intense in practice or on the bench. It was not the way I could coach. This is not how I’m wired.” He will have to find the sweet spot, the happy middle. Can he? This will be a lot of fun.