Few people can say that their lifelong career and passion began out of circumstance, but for former UTSA basketball player Terrence Jones, this is precisely the case.
Despite his family’s involvement in the sport (his uncle played for the New York Knicks and his father played in college), Jones didn’t show any interest in basketball until the age of 14 when his family moved to Gonzalez, La.
“I didn’t have any friends,” says Jones, “so the only sport I could play to have that interaction was basketball.” Four years later, Jones was ranked number four in the state and signed to play for UTSA.
Jones’ basketball career has taken him all over the world, something that he never conceived could happen.
“You never think that basketball can take you to places you couldn’t go on your own. I got to experience several other countries and people around the world.”
After graduating from UTSA, Jones traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to play for the Euroleague. He played in Italy, France and Germany as well as a short stint in Mexico. Returning to the United States, Jones coached a number of basketball teams from the elementary school level all the way to Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La. But Jones shortly discovered that coaching wasn’t his passion, so he returned to San Antonio to pursue a slightly different career path: training.
In Jones’ years of coaching, he saw a slow depletion of fundamental skills, something that, as a coach, he didn’t have adequate time to address with his players. “The coach is on the macro level, they get their players ready for games. Like a general, they have to get their soldiers ready for war.” While Jones enjoyed coaching, he found his passion in the micro level of basketball, in the basic skills that he could transfer to other players.
“Everything that took me 20 years to learn, I can transfer it to one person within an hour. And that’s the passion: to see what I’ve learned and to give it to somebody else.”
With this goal in mind, Jones teamed up with Nike to bring Nike basketball to San Antonio with his program Ultimate Champions. “I reached out to Nike and said ‘hey, can I run my own basketball program?’” said Jones, “and they put their stamp on me, and that’s pretty huge for a basketball trainer.”
In his program, Jones will be working with all levels and ages of players from the novice to the elite to help develop and hone basic skills as well as the intellectual properties of the game. “When I was playing, I loved it for what I could absorb in terms of learning to become a better player,” says Jones, “If someone wanted to show me anything in basketball, I would pursue it aggressively so that I could become a better player and to learn more about the game because I was so enthralled with it. And from there, the passion went from learning about the game so I could become my better self to seeing how I can transfer this knowledge.”
Working alongside Nike, Jones hopes to bring his program to every state by franchising, consulting or licensing Ultimate Champions to make that happen. Jones wants to stay involved with the game for as long as he can, “I just don’t see myself doing anything else.” For Jones, basketball truly is his passion, “I didn’t stop playing basketball until I was 27 years old, and I’m doing this 14 years later. Part of me just can’t put on those shoes, those Johnson and Murphys and a shirt and tie, I just can’t see it. That’s why I’m still involved with basketball. I’m 41 and I still play because I still love it.”