29 February 2020

The Legacy of the Jones Brothers: My family black history contribution

Posted in Potpourri

For the first time, I'm sharing with you facts about members of my family that is not directly tied to money. I'm sharing with you a Basketball focused history making fact that I'm proud to say was accomplished by members of my family, the Jones Brothers of the Wolfe Project Community in Southeast Arkansas. This small country community is also where I grew up. My grandmother Rosa Bea Williams and Cecilia Bea Jones, mother of the Jones brothers are sisters.

This post is a direct copy of a newspaper article published by our hometown paper, The Times-News from McGehee and Dermott Arkansas. This article was published on Wednesday February 19, 2020 Volume 45 No. 8.


University Honors Legendary Jones Brothers

If you were a high school basketball fan in southeast Arkansas in the 1960s and 1970s, then it is likely you watched one of the legend-ary Jones brothers on the court at Desha Central High School. Six of the eight Wolfe Project siblings not only broke records in high school, but went on to become stars in college and professional basketball.

Jones Brothers - Oliver, Melvin, Wilbert, Caldwell, Major Charles

Charles, Major, Caldwell Jr., Wilbert, Melvin, and Oliver were born to Caldwell Sr. and Cecelia Jones, a farming family in the rural outskirts of McGehee. Each of the six made their mark on local basketball courts before all six went on to play college hoops for the same school-- Albany State College (later University) in Albany, Georgia. Caldwell Sr. and Cecelia had eight children in all including the oldest son Clint and the only daughter, Clovis.

Many of the records set by the Jones brothers at Albany State still stand today. Oliver became the first of the brothers to play for the Golden Rams in 1961. His brother Melvin joined him on the team in 1964. Oliver was drafted into the NBA where he played for three seasons before becoming the head coach at Albany State from 1972 until his retirement in 2000.

During his nearly thirty year college coaching career, Oliver coached his two youngest brothers, Major and Charles. In fact, a Jones brother either coached or played at Albany State for over 24 consecutive years.

While Oliver became the first brother to play ball professionally, the other brothers followed in his footsteps. Melvin played in the ABA for three seasons and Wilbert for nine seasons. Younger brother Caldwell played an impressive 17 seasons in both the ABA and NBA with teams that included the Philadelphia 76ers, the Houston Rockets, and the Chicago Bulls. Major played seven seasons professionally for the Houston Rockets and the Detroit Pistons after playing several seasons in Europe. Youngest brother Charles played for 17 seasons in the NBA with the 76ers, the Bulls, the Pistons, and the Houston Rockets, winning the NBA championship with the Rockets in 1995.

Jones - Albany State University

The contributions of the Jones brothers to the Albany State University basketball program were etched in history recently. In January, the University officially named the athletic complex the Jones Major, Charles, and Wilbert Jones are pictured above as the basketball court at Albany State University was named for their brother, the late Coach Oliver Jones recently. (Photos courtesy of the Jones Family) This sign marks the entrance to The Jones Brothers Health, Physical Education and Recreation Complex at Albany State University, named for the legendary Jones brothers of Wolfe Project. Brothers Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Complex. The basketball court is officially named for the late Coach Oliver Jones who passed away on December 31, 2019.

Surviving brothers Wilbert, Major, and Charles, along with many other members of the Jones family were on hand for the official dedication last month (January 2020).