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MACON, Ga. – Mercer Athletics Director Bobby Pope today announced the appointment of two-time national Coach of the Year Janell Jones, currently the head women’s basketball coach at the University of California, San Diego, to the same post at Mercer, effective immediately. Jones succeeds Mercer Associate Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator Sybil Blalock, who served as interim coach for the 2006-07 season. Blalock took over in August 2006 when Brenda Welch-Nichols departed for the head coaching position at Sam Houston State University.
Jones comes to Mercer having won more than 90 percent of her games in seven seasons as a head coach. Her record at UCSD and Oklahoma City University, where she won two NAIA national championships and was national runner-up three times, is 225-24.
Since taking over at UCSD in 2005, Jones has compiled a 50-10 record and led the Tritons to the NCAA Division II Tournament in successive years. She led the team to the Final Four last month, where UCSD lost to eventual national champion Southern Connecticut. For her efforts during the 2006-07 campaign, Jones was named California Collegiate Athletic Association Coach of the Year. One of her players on the Final Four team, Leora Juster, was named a Division II Kodak All-American.
“We are extremely pleased that Janell has accepted our head women’s basketball coaching position,” said Pope. “She has been very successful at both UCSD and Oklahoma City, and we are confident she will bring that same success to Mercer. She not only produces championship teams, but she has recruited and coached a number of academic all-Americans and she graduates her student-athletes, which is a great combination.”
Prior to her arrival at UCSD, Jones distinguished herself as the winningest coach in OCU history. She was part of four NAIA Division I national championship teams (two as head coach and two as an assistant) and posted a record of 175-14 (.926) over five seasons. Her squads never finished a season with fewer than 32 victories. At OCU, she was responsible for recruiting and coaching All-American Miriam Sy, who was drafted by the WNBA’s Washington Mystics in 2006, and coached five Kodak All-Americans, including two Kodak Players of the Year. She was named NAIA Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2002. Jones joined OCU as an assistant coach in 1998 and quickly helped the Stars win their first national championship since 1988, which initiated a string of four straight national titles.
“Mercer is fortunate to have attracted a proven winner to lead our women’s basketball program,” President William D. Underwood said. “She has a phenomenal record as a head coach, and comes to us from one of the top academic institutions in the country, so she understands the true meaning of student-athlete. Under the leadership of Janell Jones, we believe women’s basketball at Mercer will be in great hands.”
Prior to her arrival at Oklahoma City, Jones was an assistant coach at Oral Roberts in Tulsa, Okla. Her appointment at Oral Roberts followed a successful three-year stint as head girls’ basketball coach at Carl Albert High School in Midwest City, Okla. At Carl Albert High School, she led the Titans to the 1996 Oklahoma Class 5 state championship and compiled a 69-13 mark. Her program produced three NCAA Division I players, including Paige Sauer, a former WNBA player.
“I am extremely thrilled to be joining the Mercer University family and the Macon community,” said Jones. “Becoming a part of the women’s basketball program at Mercer is a great opportunity. I look forward to immediately working with the players, administration and community toward building a successful program here.”
A native of Midwest City, Okla., Jones earned a bachelor’s degree in science education, summa cum laude, from Oklahoma Christian University, where she was a member of the women’s basketball team. She completed a master’s degree in educational leadership, summa cum laude, from Southern Nazarene University.
In addition to her coaching duties, Jones also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. Jones has a son, Kyle Jones, a senior at the University of Oklahoma.