|Johnny Jones Biography|
Courtesy: University of North Texas
When Johnny Jones arrived as a freshman on the LSU campus in 1980 as an all-state guard and one of the nation’s top recruits, he brought with him the nickname "The Bullet," which helped make him an instant hit with Tiger basketball fans.
After all, LSU could already boast having "Pistol" Pete Maravich in its storied past. Now, it had "The Bullet."
Jones went on to help lead LSU to one of the most successful chapters in the school's basketball history, including an appearance in the NCAA Final Four in 1981. But that experience was just the beginning for Jones, whose lifelong career in basketball not only includes that trip to the Final Four, but another Final Four appearance as an assistant coach, as well as nine other coaching trips to the NCAA Tournament and two NIT berths.
Now he has brought that level of success to North Texas – a program that averaged just five wins per season in the four years prior to his arrival. Under Jones, the Mean Green has averaged 21 wins per year over the last six seasons, including a school-record 24-wins in 2010 and a pair of Sun Belt Conference titles and NCAA Tournament trips.
North Texas has advanced to the Sun Belt Tournament finals in each of the last three seasons, and four times in the last six. That makes NT just the third program in Sun Belt history to advance to three straight SBC Tournament finals.
Jones has won more games than any other Sun Belt coach over the last six years and has coached five of the nine 20-win seasons in NT history, which has ignited the Mean Green Nation. Jones is responsible for the third best single-season attendance mark in in school history in 2012, which marks a 121 percent attendance increase over his tenure. Four of the top 11 single-game crowds in school history have come in the last five seasons, including the 2010-11 win over Texas Tech that saw 7,105 pile into the Super Pit.
A statement to Jones’ up-tempo mentality, North Texas boasts the Sun Belt’s highest scoring offense and highest scoring player in each of the last two seasons, including Sun Belt Freshman of the Year and Lou Henson Award finalist Tony Mitchell. In fact, NT has either ranked first or second in the league in scoring in each of the last seven seasons. The Mean Green also led the nation in free throws made per game in 2009 and 2011, and finished second in 2010.
NT has ranked among the nation’s top 70 in scoring offense eight times under Jones, including six appearances in the top 35. The Mean Green led the Sun Belt and ranked 30th in the nation in 2011 with 76.2 points per game, and the squad's 47.9 field goal percentage tied for the NCAA's eighth best.
Jones’ teams also display his high-octane intensity on the defensive end of the floor, as four of the top five shot blockers in North Texas history played under him. The Mean Green ranked among the nation’s top 50 last year in field goal percentage defense, rebounding margin and defensive 3-point field goal percentage.
In 2006-07, NT ranked 20th in the country with a +6.1 rebounding margin and 51st with 4.4 blocks per game. For the first time in school history, North Texas had a trio of players with at least 30 blocks in 06-07.
The 11 year veteran at NT already ranks second in program history with 190 career wins, and is the only North Texas coach to lead his teams to multiple NCAA Tournaments. He led the Mean Green to 17-straight home wins in 2010-11, which qualified as the nation's sixth longest streak at the time.
A recruiter unmatched in school history, Jones brought in the nation’s No. 30 ranked recruiting class for 2011-12, along with Tony Mitchell – only the second player in Sun Belt history to win three consecutive Player of the Week awards. Mitchell, who led the U19 Team USA squad in rebounding and blocked shots at the FIBA World Championships, is the first freshman since Michael Beasley to rack up multiple 30-plus point/15-plus rebound games.
In March of 2010, Jones was selected one of 25 national All-District Coaches by the NABC, and was also named a Ben Jobe Award finalist, given annually to the nation's top minority coach.
Jones has even defeated five Final Four coaches - Lou Henson, Nolan Richardson, John Brady, Billy Tubbs and Tom Crean - in his 10 years as a head coach.
Under Jones' tutelage, North Texas had a school-record, and league-high four players named to Sun Belt All-Conference teams in 2010. That year First-Team All-Sun Belt selection Tristan Thompson broke the Sun Belt Tournament scoring record with 95 points and an average of 23.8 per game.
NT has now posted a .500 record or better in each of the last eight seasons, which makes this the most prosperous stretch of basketball at this school since 1931.
"The Bullet," who was named as North Texas' new men's basketball head coach on April 16, 2001, wasted no time turning the Mean Green around and making North Texas the newest success story on his resume.
In his debut at the helm, the 41-year-old Jones and his staff guided the Mean Green to a 15-14 overall record - the program's first winning season since 1995-96. The 10-3 home record compiled by the Mean Green was the school's best effort at the Super Pit in 11 seasons.
The 11-win improvement enjoyed by the Mean Green (who went 4-24 in 2000-01) tied for the seventh-best one season turnaround in the NCAA. And the improvement from that 4-24 record (.143) to 15-14 (.517) marked the third-best improvement in winning percentage in the country.
Along the way, the Mean Green also averaged a conference-leading 78.6 point per game, improved their scoring defense by nearly 10 points per game and racked up a then school-record 99 blocked shots. The improvements didn't stop there, however, as Jones led the Mean Green to its best ever finish in the Sun Belt Conference in 2003-04. That squad went 8-7 in Sun Belt Conference action, including wins over both division champions. Along the way to a third-place finish in the West Division, Jones picked up his 50th career victory and has helped North Texas set a winning standard at the Super Pit as his teams have posted 42 home wins over the last five years, the most over a five-year span since 1973-74 thru 1977-78.
Jones backed up the success of the 2003-04 season by leading North Texas to 14 regular-season wins, tying the program's most since 1990-91, and to its most non-conference wins in over 20 years during both the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.
In Jones' second year as head coach the Mean Green won its first regular-season tournament since 1981 that included a victory over NCAA Tournament qualifier Weber State. The 2002-03 start was even more impressive considering that it included a season-opening victory over Southwest Missouri State, breaking a streak of 25 consecutive season-opening victories for SMS at Hammons Student Center and making the Mean Green just the second team to ever defeat the Bears at HSC in a season-opening game.
Jones' impact was immediate and instantly created a solid foundation on which he is using to build the Mean Green into a program that is a conference contender on a yearly basis.
Jones has placed a player on the All-Sun Belt Conference Team in each of his 11 seasons, and also coached the ‘05-06 and ‘07-08 Sun Belt Newcomers of the Year, the ‘07-08 and ‘11-12 Freshman of the Year and the 2007 and 2010 SBC Tournament MVPs.
Jones not only brings a soft-spoken confidence to the Mean Green, he also owns a resume that boasts a winning background that includes stints on the coaching staffs of two SEC powerhouses and a three-year tenure at Memphis.
A former four-year letterman at LSU, Jones spent 17 seasons coaching in the collegiate ranks before being handed the reins of the Mean Green.
Before joining the Alabama staff prior to the 2000-01 season, Jones coached for three seasons at Memphis, including two seasons as associate head coach and one as the Tigers' interim head coach during the 1999-2000 season.
He also coached for 13 seasons at his alma mater, LSU, serving in the capacities of assistant coach, administrative assistant and associate head coach from 1984 to 1997 alongside legendary head coach Dale Brown. He was the Tigers' associate head coach from 1994-97.
It was during his tenure at LSU that Jones earned his stripes as one of the country's top recruiters. That's the kind of reputation you earn when you recruit and coach the likes of NBA superstar and College Player of the Year Shaquille O'Neal, two-time All-American Chris Jackson (now known as Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf) and former national high school player of the year Randy Livingston.
Jones' ability as a recruiter is reflected in the talent he not only helped lure to LSU, but the players he attracted to Memphis during his time there. He helped secure LSU's 1993 recruiting class which was ranked No. 1 in the nation. And in 1997 at Memphis, Jones also helped accumulate a JUCO recruiting class that was ranked No. 1 nationally and was the cornerstone of an overall class that was ranked seventh.
Jones, of course, knows what it takes to be a winner on the court. As a player at LSU from 1980-84, Jones was a member of the Tigers' team that played in the Final Four in 1981. As a coach, Jones has helped coach teams to the Final Four (1986) and the Elite Eight (1987), as well as to nine consecutive NCAA appearances. Two of the LSU squads he helped coach also captured SEC championships, in 1985 and 1991.
As an assistant at Memphis in 1998, Jones helped coach the Tigers to the Conference USA National Division championship. When Jones was interim head coach at Memphis in 1999-2000, the Tigers won six of their final seven games and finished with a 15-16 record while returning just one starter from the previous season.