Still coaching young men in basketball, former Bradwell Institute and First Presbyterian Christian Academy boys basketball coach David Jones recently hit two milestones.
Currently at Greenforest Academy in Decatur, he coached his 1,000th game Jan. 14. On Feb. 19, Jones led his Eagles to his 700th career win.
“I was really excited about that,” he said. “Just to know that I’ve been able to stay in it for that long … That is a lot of watching kids running up and down the floor.”
Jones is in his 38th year of coaching. He spent 12 years at Bradwell where he earned his 600th win. He coached one season at FPCA and has coached at different schools in Georgia, Virginia, Kentucky and Florida.
And he spent more time on the baseball diamond than a basketball court as a youngster in Kentucky.
“I played some basketball,” Jones said. “I did not play my junior or senior year because of farm work and I got to play more baseball than anything and ... I played some football too. But sometimes you end up on the farm. That took priority over everything.”
Jones attended Franklin-Simpson High School in Kentucky and Western Kentucky. After college he went back to Franklin-Simpson, where he was an assistant coach for four years under head coach John Price.
“I give him a lot of credit for making me the coach I am,” Jones said. “We still talk … and he was thrilled with this milestone.” According to the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association, Jones’ record of 700-310 ranks him seventh in Georgia among all-time winning coaches. And Jones said he’s not done.
“If I’m here next year and I’m successful, I can possibly hit No. 3,” Jones said. “It’s been enjoyable. You coach for something in your life and for me I enjoy it, it’s a competition thing.”
Among his fondest memories is from 1968 in his first head coaching job in Georgia at Southwest High School in Atlanta.
“We won the region title in the first year which was unexpected,” Jones said. “I must have called all my friends in Kentucky and all of a sudden I realized that it was about 2:30 in the morning (Kentucky time) and I am waking them up and telling them, ‘I’m going to state, I’m going to state.’ In Kentucky basketball is such an important part of life and you don’t have classifications, so if you go (to state) you really accomplished something. I was still in that mindset and I was waking them up. They were half awake but they were happy for me.”But winning is only a part of his game. He said his career has given him an extensive group of friends he cherishes.
“I have former players that I run into all the time, and I tell the young coaches that I work with the greatest thing in all of this are the friendships that you build as a result of this,” he said.
At Southwest High School in Atlanta, Jones won back-to-back state at-large championships in 1972-73 and 1973-74.
He has seen several of his players go on to college, the NBA and even announce professional basketball games.
Jones said many of his former players have told him how basketball helped them. At a recent Eagles game, a former player spoke to Jones’ team.
“He told the kids, ‘If you can survive coach Jones on the basketball floor, you can survive life and any job.’ That is the most rewarding of all,” Jones said, laughing.
On Feb. 10, Jones won the region title for Greenforest Academy and improved their record to 21-4 overall.
“We know we are going to state. It’s just a matter of what seed. “Winning is fun,” he said.