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Jones is home with Cougars

NH alum to lead boys' hoops

May 14, 2014 | 11:10 AM

A year ago, Kevin Jones said he felt lucky to land a teaching position at North Harrison Middle School.

Kevin Jones
Last Thursday, Jones landed the ultimate gig — head boys' basketball coach — at his alma mater, North Harrison High School.

"I could not be any more happy to be home," Jones said. "For Mr. (Steve) Hatton, Mr. (Hal) Pearson and Mr. (John) Thomas to show faith in me ... There are so many good coaches out there that all they need is a chance."

Taking personal pride in his hometown school, Jones has been part of previous success with the Cougars. A 1992 graduate, Jones was part of the 1990 North Harrison team that won the Crawford County Sectional in the single-class era. The Cougars reached the regional final before bowing out to Loogootee.

Lately, the Cougars have had a drought when it comes to the postseason; they haven't won a sectional in the class era. The last banner went up in 1996.

"This is my destination job," Jones said. "It's nice to be back home. I want to get the kids competitive again. We haven't put any pictures up on that wall in a long time."

To get another photo on the wall, Jones is set to instill an up-tempo style of play.

"I like to play fast," he said. "We're going to press, get after people and change defenses up."

Jones has been around plenty of successful coaches as he marched his way toward his first varsity job. He's been on the bench for coaches Rick Snodgrass, Joe Hinton, Mike Brown and Missy Voyles. Voyles has a girls' regional championship under her belt while Snodgrass, Brown and Hinton have more than 300 boys' wins each, along with postseason success.

After starting a family after high school and working outside of basketball, Jones returned to complete his teaching degree at Indiana University Southeast. When the decision to return to school was made, Jones was hired by previous North Harrison coach Rick Snodgrass to take the reins of the program's fifth-grade team.

From there, Jones moved up the ladder, eventually becoming part of the varsity bench with Snodgrass during his final two seasons.

Next came coaching with Hinton, a Hall of Famer, at Paoli High School.

"In my first year, we went 20-5, reaching the regional final," Jones said.

Following the regional, Jones coached two additional seasons with Hinton before the veteran retired.

Keeping with the trend of being next to successful coaches, Jones went to Crawford County Junior-Senior High School to be part of three Mike Brown-coached staffs that won 17, 19 and 14 games.

Then came the job at North Harrison and the decision to join Voyles' girls' basketball staff as a junior varsity coach when that position became open.

"Moving over to the girls' side helped me," he said. "I haven't always been the most patient person, and it chilled me out. You have to be more patient. I'm friends with Scott Schoen (Silver Creek) and Josh Conrad (Henryville), who love coaching on the girls' side."

Coaching the girls also gave Jones the opportunity to coach his daughter, Cammie, a sophomore for the Lady Cats last season.

"I couldn't be more thankful for the basketball education I've got at this point," Jones said. "I teach next door to Missy, so we talk daily. We have a great relationship, and I think we can help each others program."

Jones succeeds Greg Walters, who resigned soon after the Cougars completed a 9-12 campaign. During five seasons, Walters put together a 44-63 record, with his best season coming in 2012-13, when the Cougars went 14-8. Taking over a muddling program, North Harrison had won 11 games in three years prior to Walters' arrival.

Having worked at North Harrison for the previous year, Jones said he attended many home boys' basketball games, so he has a "feel" of the players in the program. With a daughter who graduated from North Harrison a year ago, along with Cammie still in school, Jones said he is familiar with the players.

"I met with the guys last Friday," he said. "We've gone over a very busy summer schedule. We're going to attend a team camp, play in Louisville in the Derek Smith Shootout, play in the Salem Summer League, so basically get in 20 to 30 games."

Jones said the summer will be important due to implementing a new style of play and system.

"The more we can learn to be ready for November, the better we will be," he said. "We're going to run, press and play a lot of players. We'll have lots of sets to run. It'll be organized chaos, but I see us with the personnel to play that way."

Also part of the summer workload is to familiarize the coach with the players, along with building chemistry.

"I plan on being around them as much as possible," Jones said. " I want them to see the time I'm willing to put in to make the program successful. It's about building team chemistry and unity."

While North Harrison has had some success the last three seasons, Jones said key contributors will be lost to graduation.

"The guys that won a majority of those games are gone," he said. "There are some good sophomores and juniors that will be back that played a lot on varsity: Alex Flock, Chandler Jenkins and Gage Arnold. The JV team also played well the second half of the season."

To reach that next level, Jones repeated the word "competition."

"You want to out-scrap and out-hustle opponents," he said. "Practices will be competitive. We want our varsity being pushed by the JV. We want guys fighting for spots. That's how we will get better. Everything we do will be competitive. They need competition."

Jones said a key is building a program on the whole. From the start of the feeder system and youth camps, all the way to the varsity, it's being North Harrison basketball.

"We want to build one program," he said.

Schedule-wise, Jones said he understands the high level of play that comes with the Mid-Southern Conference but expects competition in practice and accountability will translate to being competitive in the league and postseason.

Jones and his family — wife, Michelle, and three children, Ashlee (19), Cammie (15) and Mason (11) — reside in New Salisbury.

Twitter: @CoryDemSports

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