By Andrew Holman | Sports Editor
Unselfishness. Toughness. Discipline.
“I think those three things cover so much not only in coaching or in basketball, but in life. Because if you’re an unselfish person — you’re always willing to help others. If you are a tough person mentally and physically — you can get through almost anything. If you’re disciplined — you have the discipline to get up everyday and do the things that you might not want to do.”
Those were the words of newly appointed graduate assistant coach for Duquesne men’s basketball, Jeremiah Jones, as he discussed the three principles that he wears around his wrist each day. But he doesn’t just wear them — he lives them.
On December 19, 2015, Jones took the court at the A.J. Palumbo Center with his teammates for a non-conference matchup against the Robert Morris Colonials. The contest marked his 84th consecutive start and the 103rd game of his collegiate career at Duquesne. It was also his last.
The diagnosis was a torn ACL, which prematurely ended Jones’ collegiate career. The news tested just how mentally and physically tough Jones could be.
“It sucked. I was very emotional about it,” Jones said. “I wasn’t really talking or eating or sleeping for a couple weeks, but I understood that it was part of God’s plan and whatever happened was meant to happen and I would move on with my life from then on. Life is about more than just playing basketball.”
Jones still has hope that his playing career may not be over just yet, but as he continues to recover from a torn ACL, he decided to transition to the other side of the basketball world and begin his coaching career.
Duquesne men’s basketball head coach Jim Ferry brought in Jones as part of his inaugural recruiting class on the Bluff. Ferry trusted the talent of Jones and in return was rewarded with 761 career points, 412 rebounds, 209 assists, 54 steals and one humble leader. Ferry sees a future in the coaching world for his former small forward and decided to bring him onto the staff for the 2016-17 season.
After just one exhibition contest under his coaching belt, Jones is still getting used to the idea of being on the sidelines.
“I don’t necessarily like getting dressed up in suits all the time, but I like the game of basketball and whatever I have to do to be around it, I’ll do it,” Jones said. “It was a little weird, but I’ll get used to it.”
In his first year of coaching, Jones will look to help build chemistry in a group that consists of eight newcomers. It may take time for this team to mold into its potential, but Jones has high aspirations for what he believes to be a very talented and coachable group. He said he expects his guys to win as well as compete in the Atlantic 10 conference with the ultimate goal of qualifying for the NCAA tournament.
Fresh off his playing career, Jones knows what it takes to compete at a high level and is embracing the opportunity to share his knowledge with his team.
“I tell these guys — basketball isn’t forever, so put as much as you have into it while you can,” Jones said. “I’m just looking forward to helping guys get better and to achieve their dreams.”
Don’t let the coaching gig fool you however, Jones hasn’t given up on his own dreams. He has taken an unselfish mindset and has made coaching his top priority, but within the walls of the Palumbo Center, Jones is quietly putting in the work to reinvigorate his playing career.
He has a dream and he is fighting for it every single day. Jones shows discipline as he partakes in a challenging road to recovery. A road that includes rehab sessions multiple times per week to go along with daily shooting and lifting to keep himself fresh. But Jones says he can always be found with gym shorts and a basketball and he is eager to compete with his team during practice when he is cleared by doctors.
That’s a man who loves the game. A man who has the heart to continue chasing his dream while always remaining unselfish, tough and disciplined.
Jones will continue to pursue his masters degree as he fulfills his duties as graduate assistant coach under Ferry. But a professional basketball career is certainly attainable for Jones and it would mean a whole lot to him.
“It would mean everything, man, because that has been my dream and my goal since maybe about six years old,” Jones said. “So, I am going to continue working toward that goal, but whatever happens is God’s plan for me. But he has put the dream of basketball in my heart, so I am going to continue and try to pursue that.”