POINT PLEASANT — “There’s no place like home.”
Probably one of the most well-known films in movie history, “The Wizard of Oz” tells the story of Dorothy Gale and her dog, Toto, and their journey through the magical land of Oz, in the hopes of making back to Auntie Em and Uncle Henry and their farm back in Kansas. Like Dorothy, many have learned over the years that there’s no place like home, and anytime we can sneak away from work for a visit, for those that now live far away, is more than likely going to be a good time. For Donnie Jones, originally from Point Pleasant, he and his family have done just that.
Jones, his wife Michelle, and their three children, Madisyn, Isaac, and Sophie recently returned to Point Pleasant to visit with family and to tour a few of the many historical sites here in town.
Considered somewhat of a local celebrity, Jones’ claim to fame is serving as head basketball coach for Marshall University, and currently serving as head coach for University of Central Florida (UCF).
Jones his family were traveling around Point Pleasant on Monday, and visited places such as the Mothman Museum and Mothman statue, the Point Pleasant River Museum, and Tu-Endie-Wei State Park. Jones commented there is alot of great history here in Point Pleasant and he wanted to share it with his kids.
“We love Point Pleasant,” Jones said. “There are a lot of great people, and it’s a special place.”
Jones earned a bachelor’s degree in business education from Pikeville College in 1988, and his master’s degree in sports management from Marshall in 1992. He was certainly a valuable player while in college at Pikeville, with a school record of 513 career assists, and in his senior year, he finished second in the nation in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, with 10.7 assists per game. He began coaching at Pikeville College, and after two years of being an assistant coach, he went to serve as an assistant coach at Marshall for six years, where he served under head coach, Billy Donovan.
When Donovan went to coach for the University of Florida, Jones followed, and was an assistant coach for 11 years. During his time with the Gators, he helped the team make three trips to the Final Four and back to back championships in 2006 and 2007.
Following his success in Florida, Jones was named the head coach for Marshall University, and quickly turned their basketball program around. In 2007, he led the Herd to having their first winning season in seven years, with a 16-14 record. In 2009-10, Jones led Marshall to a 24-10 record, which landed the team a spot in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, the first postseason trip for the school in 22 years. The Herd went on to win over Western Carolina, giving the school its first postseason win since 1967. That year, Marshall had one of the best offenses in the nation, scoring around 79.9 points per game, having a field-goal percentage of 47.8, and a school record of 2,717 points during the campaign. Jones’ overall record with Marshall University was 55-41.
Following his time at Marshall, Jones was then named the Head Coach for the University of Central Florida in March 2010, and his success didn’t slow down. Since Jones has taken the reins, UCF has posted back-to-back 20-victory campaigns, made two-straight postseason appearances, including a trip to the 2012 National Invitation Tournament, and recorded several notable victories.