Ernest Jones III was an OKWU basketball powerhouse in his two seasons for the Eagles. A leading scorer, Jones put up an astounding average of more than 650 points per season, was named a conference player of the year in 1996 and 1997, and NCCAA Division I 1st Team All-American in both 1996 and ’97 as well as NAIA Division II 2nd Team All American in 1996. With these accolades just a few from a long list, Oklahoma Wesleyan is proud to welcome Jones to the 2018 Eagles Sports Hall of Fame.
“Ernest was an amazing player and a huge reason for the success of our teams during his time here,” said former teammate and current OKWU Head Women’s Basketball coach, Mark Molder.
“I came to try out in 1995, and fell in love with the campus,” said Jones. “I just loved the environment, and being able to play was awesome. Our Coach was really good, and that put me in a situation where I was able to work on my spiritual walk—which is what I most appreciated about OKWU…it helped me [learn} not only how to be a man and what that looks like, but it taught me how to be a man of God most importantly. I was fortunate to have spiritual mentors from OKWU that really helped me grow into the person I am today.”
Ernest shared that his best memories from OKWU centered on the people – his teammates who supported him during difficult times, and his friends, like current OKWU Professor Keri Bostwick. “I was blessed to have friends like Keri who were honest with me and at the same time helped me in my spiritual growth…That’s what made OKWU special—not only did I make lasting friendships, but a lasting foundation for my spiritual walk.”
In 1997, Jones was presented the opportunity to play professionally in Ireland, and spent a year and a half playing until the limitations from a shoulder injury forced his retirement. While some of this journey was disappointing, Jones reflected that it was there he found his passion for coaching, as the owner of the team allowed Jones to become a basketball coach at their local Catholic schools—“At that moment I realized that even if I stopped playing, I wanted to coach.” Jones retired from professional basketball and pursued a career in education and coaching—a career he has had for nearly 18 years.
“Ernest has been a friend and loyal supporter to OKWU for many years,” said Molder, “and it is great to see him receive such an honor.”
Register for Homecoming & Family Weekend at www.okwu.edu/homecoming
Interview by Blythe Freshwater (Class of 2020)