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Johnny Jones - Class of 1969
Black Villanova Oral History Project

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Johnny Jones

Class of 1969

 

 

 

 

 

 

Johnny Jones was born in Georgia and was raised in Pompano Beach, Florida. In this interview, Jones describes his upbringing in the segregated South and the difficulties he faced in educational and athletic settings.

As a result of his tremendous perseverance, Jones finally got his chance on the court and made the most of his opportunity, once scoring 85 points in a high school basketball game. In recognition of this feat, Jones was featured in Sports Illustrated's Faces in Crowd segment. Fortunately for Villanova, George Raveling, a former Villanova basketball player and then assistant coach, saw the piece and alerted Coach Jack Kraft. Coach Kraft visited Jones in Florida and offered him a scholarship to study and play basketball at Villanova University.

During his time at Villanova, Jones was instrumental in the creation of the Black Student League (BSL). Jones and the students of the BSL promoted fellowship and unity among black students at Villanova and were very active in encouraging the University to recruit and retain more black students, staff and faculty members. In this interview, Jones describes the feelings of frustration experienced by black students who wanted to see Villanova take a more proactive approach in recruiting black students. In standing up for what he believed was right, Jones was influenced by his family's situation and his incredibly strong faith in God. Jones was raised by his mother and was one of nine brothers and sisters. He often took care of his six younger siblings, teaching them right from wrong while modeling this behavior in his own life.

Jones pledged Omega Psi Phi fraternity while at Villanova and credits black students at Villanova with inspiring him through their willingness to selflessly assist each other in times of struggle. Jones also credited the humble and non-judgmental nature of the Augustinian fathers of Villanova with making a huge impact on his life and his own teaching of the gospel.

With regard to his basketball career, Jones had an outstanding career on the court. Jones was a complete player for the Wildcats, displaying remarkable skill in all phases of the game - defense, passing, shooting and rebounding. Over the course of his career Jones amassed 1568 points and 694 rebounds in only three varsity seasons (freshmen were ineligible for varsity at this time). These impressive statistics place him in the top 25 all-time at Villanova in both categories. His 19.6 points per game average ranks #5 all-time at Villanova. As a result of his remarkable performances in games against fellow Philly schools, Jones was selected for membership in the Philadelphia Big 5 Hall of Fame in 1981. 

During his senior season the Wildcats compiled an impressive 21-4 regular season record and secured a coveted invite to the NCAA Tournament, where they suffered a disappointing first-round loss to Davidson. During Jones' senior season, Villanova played in the prestigious Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden. Despite appearances in the tournament by All-Americans Lew Alcindor of UCLA and Charlie Scott of North Carolina, Sports Illustrated (1/6/69) wrote of Jones' performance: "The best all-round player of the tournament was Villanova's Johnny Jones, who seemed to be everywhere at the same time—passing off, setting up plays, rebounding, hitting on layups and outside shots and scoring 43 points in two games." Indeed, observers of Villanova basketball credit Johnny Jones with returning the Wildcats to hardwood glory. 

After his graduation from Villanova, Jones was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA. Hampered by injuries suffered during his senior season, Jones was never healthy enough to play in the NBA and went on to play professionally in Belgium. After his return from Europe, Jones played professionally in the Eastern Basketball League for Allentown and Scranton.

Today, Jones is a minister in Lauderhill, Florida where he lives with his wife.


Jones on Growing Up in the Segregated South

Jones describes his upbringing in the segregated South of the 1950s and 1960s.

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Jones Recruited to Villanova

Jones describes how he was recruited to assistant coach Villanova by George Raveling and head coach Jack Kraft.

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Jones on the Influence of the Augustinians

In this moving section of the interview, Jones describes the impact the Augustinians had on his Villanova experience.

Jones on Leaving Villanova

In this section of the interview, Jones describes the unfortunate incidents which occurred during his last semester and caused him to leave Villanova on bad terms.
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Jones on the Black Student League

In the first segment, Jones describes the issue of unused scholarships for underrepresented students as the motivation behind the founding of the Black Student League. Jones also describes one of the first meetings of the Black Student League. 


In the second segment, Jones describes the impact and legacy of the work of the BSL. 

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Jones on Impact of Villanova and Fellow Students on Him

Jones concludes the interview by talking about the impact his education and his fellow students at Villanova had on his development.

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