New Talawanda boys basketball coach eager to ‘build a program’

Bobby Jones was always fond of Oxford. Now, he looks forward to raising his three children there.

Talawanda High School has hired Jones, 39, as its new boys basketball coach.

Jones spent the last 10 seasons at Hagerstown (Ind.) High School, where he posted a 132-95 record overall with league championships in 2013 and 2018. This will be his 20th year overall as a high school basketball coach, and although this is his first stint in Ohio, he became familiar with Talawanda from his days working camps with legendary Miami University men's basketball coach Charlie Coles.

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“I used to hear coach Coles talk about Talawanda, and being the local school, we always had kids from there at camp,” said Jones, who graduated from Ball State University, where he served as a student manager and practice player for the men’s basketball team. “I was looking for a new challenge. I’m the type that likes to build a basketball program, and it seemed like a great opportunity at a bigger school to build a program.”

Talawanda hasn’t experienced a winning season since 2008-09, and the Braves have been through the hiring of three head coaches in the last three years. Eddie Glaser was 12-34 in two seasons before he stepped down after the 2016-17 campaign, and Chris Coles was hired to replace him last summer but was relieved before the school year even began because he wasn’t able to move from his home in Michigan.

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Baseball coach Tim Reed stepped in and guided Talawanda to a 5-18 record but the Braves were in need of a long-term solution, and Jones matched the school’s needs.

“It has been tough,” athletic director Wes Cole said. “You never like to hire someone and it not work out, but fortunately coach Reed stepped in and did an outstanding job under the circumstances. In this process we’ve found someone who was excited to be at Talawanda and already has been here for practice. We feel we have a good person in place to lead our program.”

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Cole said he and the hiring committee were impressed with Jones’ resume but he also stood out in the interview process while stressing things like building relationships with the kids and parents, building character in the kids and developing fundamentals at all levels within the school system.

Jones has a wealth of experience, including helping the Winchester Community High to the Indiana Class 2A state finals in 2007 and 2008 as an assistant, and he comes from a basketball family. His father, Rick, was Indiana’s Mr. Basketball out of Muncie Central in 1963. Jones’ coaching style centers around a high-intensity man-to-man defense.

“He stuck out as someone that could build our program and who would be in it for the long-haul,” Cole said.

Jones wasn’t sure he would ever leave Hagerstown but after four straight 15-win seasons and a 112-51 record over the last seven years, he came to the realization he had probably taken the team about as far as it would go. Hagerstown is a small school where athletes are pulled in multiple directions to fill rosters and Jones said it’s more of a football and baseball school.

It seemed like a good time to move on to a bigger school, both for himself professionally and for his family. He and his wife have three young kids ranging from 9 months to 4 years old.

Jones plans to move to Oxford later this summer, but in the meantime, the commute from his home and job as a support manager at Lowe’s in Richmond, Ind., is a mere 30 minutes. He also is working to complete his teaching degree and hopes to eventually join the staff at Talawanda.

“I was looking for a bigger school system with good academics and athletics in a good community where our kids can grow up and succeed academically and athletically,” Jones said. “Talawanda fits all the bills. It seemed like a good fit for our family, and we want to settle down and stay.”

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