NACOGDOCHES, TX (Press Release)- Stephen F. Austin head men's basketball coach Kyle Keller has added Derrick Jones, a 2001 graduate of Samford University, to the Lumberjack staff as an assistant coach.
Originally from Erwinville, La., Jones comes to east Texas following a two-year stint at Vanderbilt where he helped the Commodores in the areas of recruiting, scouting and player development. Jones' arrival in Nacogdoches marks his fifth collegiate coaching stop after a playing career in which he suited up for both Mississippi State (1996-98) and Samford (1998-01).
"My continued search to complete our staff kept leading me back to Derrick," Keller said. "He has a proven track record and has proven to be a big-time winner at each and every school he has been a part of throughout his playing and coaching career. I am thrilled for our staff and for our players with the addition of Derrick. They will benefit greatly from the experiences he has collected throughout his career and the SFA community will enjoy getting to know Derrick and his family."
In his most recent season on the Commodores' bench, Jones helped guide the SEC squad to a mark of 19-14 as well as a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2011-12 campaign. Two of his pupils – Damian Jones and Wade Baldwin IV – collected All-SEC honors in 2015-16 and received an invite to the NBA Draft Combine. With a roster that also included the likes of All-SEC Defensive Team selection Luke Kornet – the nation's fourth-leading shot blocker (3.04 per game) – the Commodores rose to as high 16th in the AP Top 25 Poll and 13th in the USA Today Coaches Poll and were picked to finish second in the SEC.
"I'm very excited to work with coach Keller," Jones said. "I've gotten to know him really well these past few months and the vision and passion he has for Stephen F. Austin basketball is refreshing. The tradition and commitment for basketball that this university and community have built is really exciting to be a part of."
Under the watch of Jones and the rest of their coaching staff, the Commodores were a 20-game winner in 2014-15, wrapping their campaign with a 21-14 mark that included advancement all the way to the NIT quarterfinals. It marked Vanderbilt's 19th season of 20 or more wins in the history of the program. That season, Jones assisted in the development of eventual All-SEC Freshman Team member Riley LaChance as well as Damian Jones – an All-SEC First Team selection.
Jones' arrival in Nashville came on the heels of a highly successful four-year stint at Louisiana Tech. Through the course of his final two seasons in Ruston (2012-14), Jones helped guide the Bulldogs to a record 56 wins as well as back-to-back regular season league titles. In 2012-13, Louisiana Tech captured 27 victories – including a school-record 18 in a row - en route to capturing the WAC title and the program's first AP Top 25 ranking in nearly three decades. With Jones helping direct things, the Bulldogs made a second-round run in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) before making the move to Conference USA in 2013-14.
In their new conference, Louisiana Tech continued its unparalleled success with a season of 29 wins and a trip to the NIT quarterfinals.
One of the big-time beneficiaries of Jones' tutelage in Ruston was Michale Kyser – a 6'10 forward who, under the guidance of Jones, developed into a WAC All-Defensive Team member in 2013 and a two-time C-USA All-Defensive Team performer in 2014 and 2015. Currently, Kyser is on the roster of Raptors 905 – the NBA D-League affiliate of the Tornoto Raptors.
This solid foundation was laid a year earlier during Jones' first year on former Bulldog and current Florida coach Michael White's staff in 2011-12 when he worked closely with senior Romario Souza who often times was the only forward on the court. Souza drastically improved his game throughout the year, and would go on to start the last ten games for the Bulldogs, averaging 12.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in those contests.
Souza's emergence down the stretch helped lead the Bulldogs to wins in five of their last six regular games and an appearance in the program's first ever WAC Tournament final after upsetting Utah State and Nevada in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.
After coming up just 40 minutes short of making an appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the program's first time since 1991, the Bulldogs ended with an overall record of 18-16, a six-win improvement from the year before.
His move to Ruston occurred following a two-year stint at current Southland Conference program the University of New Orleans under the employ of now University of Arizona Associate Head Coach Joe Pasternack. While at UNO, Jones found himself heavily involved in recruiting, player evaluation, academics and on-court preparation for the Privateers. Before his days at UNO, Jones' first collegiate coaching gig came at his alma mater of Samford from 2005-08. Working for head coach Jimmy Tillette – the program's all-time winningest coach with over 200 triumphs - Jones helped lead Samford to a 20-win season, including wins over perennial postseason teams in Southern Miss and Murray State.
Jones broke into the coaching field at the high school level by serving as an assistant coach at John Ehret High School in Marrero, La. A staff member of head coach Al Collins' from 2003-05, After a 13-14 finish in his first year at the school, Jones helped guide the team to a 14-win improvement following a 13-14 2003-04 campaign. In 2004-05, JEHS racked up a mark of 27-3 as well as a No. 2 ranking in Class 5A.
Catholic High School in Baton Rouge was where Jones played his prep basketball and while there he was a key cog in the squad's run to the 1995 Louisiana Class 5A state title game as a junior. Once his prep career was in the books, Jones inked with Mississippi State where he started 12 games and led all Bulldog freshmen in scoring. Following his sophomore season in Starkville, he transferred to Samford where he led the program to an NCAA Tournament appearance as a junior. He averaged 13.8 points and earned all-conference accolades his senior season.