NCAA

Cal promotes Wyking Jones as next head men's basketball coach

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Cal promotes Wyking Jones as next head men's basketball coach

BERKELEY – Wyking Jones, who has served the past two seasons as a Golden Bear assistant coach and has nearly 15 years of experience in collegiate coaching, has agreed to become the next men's basketball coach at the University of California. Over the course of his career, he has been a part of teams that have won a national championship and advanced to a pair of Final Fours, set all-time win records and been conference-leading defensive units.

"I am very excited to announce Wyking Jones as our next men's basketball coach at Cal," Director of Athletics Mike Williams said. "We conducted a thorough search, looking near and far and talking to people all around the country. We consulted with several Cal basketball alumni, as well as a multiple NBA and college coaches – some of the most experienced basketball minds in the game. Ultimately, we came back to where we started and found what we wanted right here in Berkeley.

"Wyking exudes all of the characteristics we want in a head coach," Williams added. "He is a person of high character who understands what it takes to thrive on and off the court. He has an affinity for Cal and its values, he has developed strong relationships with the student-athletes he coaches, and he has experienced success at the highest levels of the sport. Over the two years he has been in Berkeley, we have seen without a doubt that Wyking can coach, teach and be a leader of young men. We fully believe our men's basketball program is on an upward trajectory, and Wyking is poised to continue that momentum and take our program to even greater heights."

A California native who grew up in Inglewood, Jones played for and graduated from Loyola Marymount. Following a brief professional career, his coaching stops have taken him to Louisville, New Mexico and Pepperdine, in addition to his alma mater. Jones has mentored over a half-dozen current NBA players, including Cal's Jaylen Brown, who was the No. 3 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

While an assistant coach at Cal, Jones helped the Bears to a combined 44-24 record and reach the postseason twice. In 2015-16, Cal finished 23-11 overall, third in the Pac-12 and received a No. 4 seed to the NCAA Tournament – the highest in the history of the program. This past year, the Bears posted a 21-13 mark and earned a berth to the National Invitation Tournament.

Charged with coaching Cal's big men, Jones helped forward Ivan Rabb become a two-time All-Pac-12 performer and Brown earn All-Pac-12 and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors in 2015-16. In addition, center Kingsley Okoroh, who will return for his senior season next year, set a school record with 74 blocks this past season.

Over his two years at Cal, the Bears' defense has led the Pac-12 in points per game and field goal percentage allowed both seasons – 67.3 ppg and 39.6 percent in 2015-16 and 63.4 ppg and 40.0 percent in 2016-17.

Jones' connections to the Bay Area run deep as his wife Estrella was born and raised in Berkeley and his sister-in-law, Dr. Na'ilah Suad Nasir, serves as UC Berkeley's Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion and has been a Cal faculty member since 2008.

"I am extremely excited to be taking over at Cal as the new men's basketball head coach," Jones said. "To be able to lead this incredible group of men is a dream come true for me. When I left Louisville and decided to come home to California, I was stepping out on faith, but I knew in my heart this was where I needed to be. Coach Martin left an unbelievable foundation for the program and we will work hard to continue to elevate Cal basketball. I want fans to know that I'm excited to coach these guys, not only for what they can do on the court but to continue to cultivate them as young men."

Jones enjoyed tremendous success at his stops prior to moving to Cal. During his four seasons under head coach Rick Pitino at Louisville from 2012-15, the Cardinals compiled a 123-30 record, reached two Final Fours and captured the 2013 NCAA title. Louisville also completed the 2014-15 season with a 27-9 record, advancing to the regional final.

Prior to Louisville, Jones served two seasons on the coaching staff at New Mexico with then-head coach Steve Alford where the Lobos won a combined 52 games, including a school-record 30-victory campaign in 2009-10, finishing with a No. 8 ranking in the Associated Press national poll.

From 2002-06, Jones spent five seasons at Pepperdine where he was the Waves' recruiting coordinator. He got his start in coaching at his alma mater, Loyola Marymount, during the 1996-97 season. In addition, Jones served as the travel team manager for the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) from 2006-09.

As a student-athlete, Jones was a standout at LMU from 1991-95 under head coach John Olive, scoring 1,076 points and collecting 493 rebounds. He was a two-time All-West Coast Conference selection, highlighted by a 19.7 ppg average as a junior. Jones earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from Loyola Marymount in 1995.

Following graduation, Jones played professional basketball from 1995-2001 in Italy, France, Japan, Lebanon and South Korea. He also served on the staff at Nike Elite Youth Basketball four two years from 2007-08. Jones and his wife, Estrella, have a son, Jameel and a daughter, Zoe.

What They're Saying …

"I'm ecstatic about the news. Coach Wyking is great with the players, knows his spots and gives us the confidence to go out there without looking over our shoulders." – freshman guard Charlie Moore

"I was recruited by Coach Wyking when I was first looking at schools. We were two California guys in Kentucky who started out as rivals but remained close. I saw him being able to do great things, and to start his head coaching career with him as my head coach is the best thing I could picture happening. Having him as my head coach now is one of the best things I could ever see." – senior forward Marcus Lee

"Wyking is a five-star recruiter, a five-star coach and a five-star person. I'm so happy for him and his family." – Louisville head coach Rick Pitino

Wyking Jones Year-by-Year

Fulltime Assistant Coach

Year     School Record Postseason

2016-17          California         21-13  NIT (1st round)

2015-16          California         23-11  NCAA (1st round)

2014-15          Louisville          27-9    NCAA (Elite Eight)

2013-14          Louisville          31-6    NCAA (Sweet 16)

2012-13          Louisville          35-5    NCAA (Champion)

2011-12          Louisville          30-10  NCAA (Final Four)

2010-11          New Mexico     22-13  NIT (2nd round)

2009-10          New Mexico     30-5    NCAA (2nd round)

Cal media services

Quinnen Williams, possible Raiders draft target, misses mark in Alabama's loss

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USATSI

Quinnen Williams, possible Raiders draft target, misses mark in Alabama's loss

SANTA CLARA -- Quinnen Williams proved Monday night that he can talk a big game, even if he doesn’t play one.

The Alabama defensive tackle, whom many project to be a top-five pick if he leaves school for the 2019 NFL draft, didn’t exactly show out in the College Football Playoff National Championship at Levi’s Stadium. The redshirt sophomore finished with just four total tackles (three solo, one assist) and 1.5 for loss.

Williams went relatively unnoticed in Clemson’s 44-16 rout, except for this first-quarter stop that showcased his power.

Williams, who entered the game tied for second on the Crimson Tide with eight sacks this season, didn’t register any noticeable pass rush -- to be fair, no one on Alabama did -- as the Tigers handily won the title.

Still, Williams wasn’t that impressed by what he saw from the now-national champions.

“They really didn’t do anything that caught us off guard,” Williams said. “We knew everything that was coming. They ran zone. They ran go routes, 50-50 balls.

“[Clemson QB] Trevor Lawrence threw the ball, and it looked like he put it on the money. He didn’t drop dimes, none of that. He threw it up, and the receivers made plays. All the respect to the receivers.”

While Williams later called Lawrence “good,” his comments were reminiscent of his pre-Orange Bowl words on Kyler Murray, when he smartly stopped himself from criticizing Oklahoma’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. Williams showed no such restraint this time, and while you could chalk it up to the hurt of losing a national title game, NFL teams surely will ask him in pre-draft interviews about how he'll handle such situations.

As for his NFL draft status, Williams didn’t want to say much, claiming he really hadn’t thought about the possibility of turning pro after the season.

“I don’t know yet, man,” he said. “I got to go home, watch this film first, get with my teammates and let them know, man, everything.”

New Raiders general manager Mike Mayock, whose team has been linked to Williams with the No. 4 overall pick in numerous mock drafts, saw the defensive tackle in person Monday. Whether he liked what he saw or heard remains to be seen over the next three months.

DeAndre Hopkins explains how Clemson keeps producing NFL-level talent

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AP

DeAndre Hopkins explains how Clemson keeps producing NFL-level talent

SANTA CLARA -- The Clemson Tigers came into Monday night's College Football Playoff National Championship with a shorter list of 2019 NFL Draft talents than their counterparts, the Alabama Crimson Tide. But not if you ask some notable alumni.

To Houston Texans All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the next wave of NFL stars are Tigers.

“The way they prepare here at Clemson, the strength and condition program, Joey Batson and Larry Greenlee do a good job of getting those guys ready for the next level," Hopkins told NBC Sports Bay Area after Clemson's stunning 44-16 blowout win in the title game at Levi's Stadium. "I think they’re definitely ready for the next level."

Clemson has produced 29 picks in the last five NFL drafts. The last time the program didn't have one of its players called come April was all the way back in 2002.

Watching with former Clemson stars Deshaun Watson, Vic Beasley Jr., Mike Williams, and Tajh Boyd, Hopkins witnessed one of the greatest teams in college football history. The 2018 Tigers accomplished a feat 121 years in the making, becoming the first FBS football team to go 15-0 or 16-0 since Penn in 1897.

“To me, it means a lot. I’m from Clemson, S.C., so to see this team do what they did … I think they are (the greatest ever)," Hopkins said. "I think they can be one of the best teams ever. Do it again next year, for sure.”

The last statement is what means the most to Hopkins and everyone else who once wore a Clemson Tigers jersey. Coach Dabo Swinney took to the podium immediately after the win and said he'll soak it all up now, but he'll get back to film Friday and start preparing for next season.

“I think this is the next dynasty," Hopkins said. "Deshaun Watson started it by winning a national championship here. I think those guys are going to continue it.

"I think they’re gonna be here next year and the year after.”

That's not hard to imagine, either.

Freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence wowed with his precision passing, throwing for 347 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. His top target, Justyn Ross, made one-handed catches as a recently turned 19-year-old and finished the night with six catches for 148 yards and two TDs.

Clemson made its fourth playoff clash with Alabama look easy. The biggest names in the NFL know, too, that these could be the next stars of not only Saturdays but Sundays before we know it.