A lack of continuity has prevented The King’s Academy’s boys basketball team from experiencing the same level of success the school’s other programs have experienced in recent years.
The hope is the hiring of Sean Jones on Tuesday as the program’s third coach in three seasons can put the Lions on the right track. He will also serve as the academy’s development officer.
“Culture takes time, and when you constantly have new people coming in and out, you really can’t establish a whole lot,” Jones told The Daily Times. “One of the things that I’m excited about is building a culture that can hopefully impact The King’s Academy beyond basketball and impact these young men beyond their athletic lives.
“Establishing what it takes to be successful is going to be a big part of what we do early on, and that isn’t necessarily X’s and O’s. There’s going to be a lot of expectations on how we do things and why we do what we do.”
Jones comes to The King’s Academy after four seasons as an assistant coach at Maryville College under Randy Lambert and Raul Placeres.
The Scots achieved three consecutive 20-win seasons (2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19), won back-to-back USA South championships (2017-18 and 2018-19) and made two straight NCAA Tournament appearances (2017-18 and 2018-19) during his time on the bench. Maryville College’s 63 wins were the most among the 57 teams in the NCAA Division III South Region over that stretch.
The Morristown West graduate was recognized as one of the Southeast’s Top 25 Small College Assistants Under 35 by Coachstat.net in 2018.
“The biggest thing I’ll take away from each of them is how vital preparation is,” Jones said. “One of the quotes both Coach Lambert and Coach P use that I’ll take with me for as long as I live is, ‘If the dreams and goals are different than the people around you, then your life has to look significantly different than theirs does.’
“We’re going to have to live by that. If we want to be successful, we’re probably going to have to work a little bit harder than other people and we’re probably going to have to sacrifice things, but that’s the price that you have to pay if you want to be great.”
Jones fills the vacancy created by the resignation of headmaster Matt Mercer, who went 12-16 last season. The Lions won four games under Dante Turnipseed the year prior.
The program has some building to do before it can reach the likes of football, girls basketball and softball, all of which have emerged as Division II-A contenders in the school’s short history, but Jones believes he has the recipe to mirror the teams and coaches surrounding him.
“My expectations are to make King’s Academy basketball the best program it can possibly be,” Jones said. “I want to be all about growth. I want to be all about development and improving in every way that we can. I want the goals that we set to be growth-minded.
“I don’t know how many games we’re going to win, but I know if we work hard and we continue to grow, we’re going to put ourselves in a position to great things.”