Coastal Athletic Association

Will Jones speaks out on exit from NC A&T in exclusive interview

Former NC A&T head coach Will Jones speaks out for the first time since his exit from Greensboro in an HBCU Gameday sit down.

North Carolina A&T and former coach Will Jones parted ways slightly over a year a year ago,and even with his surprising exit, Jones is adamant that he has had no smoke for North Carolina A&T and has nothing but love for the Aggies.

Will Jones sat down with HBCU Gameday to share his side of the story and reflect on all of his accomplishments during his time at NC A&T.

Will Jones career at NC A&T began in 2016 when he joined then head coach Jay Joyner’s staff as an assistant coach. Two years later in 2018, he was promoted to associate head coach, and in the middle of the 2019 season, he became the interim head coach after the also sudden departure of Joyner. After leading NCAT to a 14-5 record as the interim head coach, Jones was promoted to full-time head coach in 2020.

Before Jones could start his third season, his contract as head coach was not renewed. The move left Jones and many NC A&T fans in confusion. Although he did not go on his own terms, he made sure to double down on his love for North Carolina A&T in an exclusive sit-down interview with HBCU Gameday.

“First and foremost, I love the Aggies. I really had a great opportunity to be with North Carolina A&T. The opportunity to be the head basketball coach there was a blessing. You know with coaching, you get hired, you get fired sometimes and that’s the life we live. What happened was that North Carolina A&T decided to go in another direction,” Jones said to HBCU Gameday’s Wali Pitt.

Jones was able to accomplish many milestones for the basketball team during his reign. He breaks down everything he was able to do to reshape the program. “

Will Jones NCAT head coach North Carolina A&T

“We won the first regular season championship in thirty years. Deion talked about donating his salary to the program at Jackson State. I think that was somewhere around 250 or $300,000 to upgrade facilities. One thing I thought we did last spring was we raised $250,000 for men’s basketball that was going to catapult us into the CAA and get us off to a good start” Jones said “In terms of raising that money, we recruited two top 150 classes at a HBCU which I think is big time,”

His time at NC A&T ended just as he was in the midst of transforming the team to fit his vision of becoming a mid-major power program as the Aggies were headed into their first year in the Coastal Athletic Conference. Raising $250,000, recruiting talented freshmen, and wooing big time transfers were the first steps in bringing the vision to life.

“With Duncan Powell coming in, Kwe Parker, Blake (Harris), all those guys were able to come in and show their skills at North Carolina A&T and make some things happen. Graduated 99% of our players at A&T which I’m very proud of, was able to win coach of the year in the conference, two national coach of the year honors from different publications, so we did a lot at A&T,” 

Powell, Parker, and Harris were the first big names that Jones brought into the program. Powell was a four-star recruit in the class of 2021 which made him the highest-rated basketball recruit in NC A&T history. Parker was a former four-star prospect who transferred from the University of Tennessee. Harris was a former four-star prospect who transferred from Missouri to NC State before arriving at North Carolina A&T.

Bringing in big names and raising money are big moves for a new head coach who’s building a program that was in the process of joining its third conference in as many years. Jones’s success with North Carolina A&T still leaves him puzzled in the aftermath of his release. “In terms of what happened, I had to get really good at answering that question in the last 365 days,” Jones said

One year later, Jones reflects on his life after coaching at NC A&T. He spent a lot of time speaking with mentors and spending time with family. He explains that he spent time figuring out his purpose.

Kwe Parker North Carolina A&T

“I didn’t want to rush into trying to figure out the job, you know, what’s next. Obviously, I felt like my credentials and resume speaks for itself in terms of the coaching side of it, but sometimes you need to step back, step away. I did a podcast this year and we talked about who you are without the logo? I call it logos and polos because coaches, we move from school to school and we represent that brand, whatever that university is or that college and that’s who think we are, but a lot times we have to know who we are without that logo. I think during this time I truly figured out my purpose, what I need to be doing, what my gifts and talents are and a 100% better coach now than I was when I got let go last fall,”

Will Jones goes on to explain that while he was finding his purpose, he still paid attention to NC A&T in their first season in the CAA. It was a challenge for him because he watched the team that he built play without him. 

“It was tough. I think earlier that week there was a publication that came out about our team. How A&T’s recruiting class may be the best recruiting class in the CAA and that we would have a chance to compete right away for a championship. That team was built for that. We built that team to be able to compete for a championship. It took me a long time to watch it physically with my own eyes,” Jones said about his support of North Carolina A&T.

It’s hard for Jones to watch not only because of the success of the program but also the potential for the bigger picture. Jones explains that success in the CAA could transform NC A&T into a mid-major power and open the door for coaches to get an opportunity to move up to jobs in the power conferences.

“I’m looking at myself and the staff, like hey man listen, if we can get this done here at A&T, build the solid foundation, build a mid-major powerhouse at an HBCU, there’s no reason why I couldn’t be able to catapult that into an ACC job. If you look at the stats, Rob Jones, who does an unbelievable job at Norfolk, back-to-back championships winning, he still hasn’t been able to get his just-do in terms of an opportunity at that level. Lavell Moton here at Central, through all of his success, hasn’t been able to get that type of opportunity to coach at that level. I thought this situation at A&T, what we were doing, how we were doing it, was going to really break barriers in giving us an opportunity to at least be in the conversation to take one of those big time jobs,” Jones explained.

Although his vision did not come to light with NC A&T, he is ready to step back into coaching. His experience at NC A&T is attractive to any college in the country. Hopefully, Jones will land a job of his choice to make his vision a reality.

“I’m really letting God order my steps in terms of what’s next. I’m prepping and getting ready for that next opportunity. It’s no doubt in my mind that I want to be a head coach at the Division I level again and I have a burning desire and energy ready to finish what I started,”

Will Jones speaks out on exit from NC A&T in exclusive interview
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