A year ago, Clyde Jones saw opportunity at Girard College.
A Class A school in the PIAA’s new six-classification scheme with an administration open to improving its athletics, Jones recognized the chance for change after a decade at Penn Wood.
A year on, the move worked on the court to the tune of a state final berth, but not as much in other areas, precipitating Jones’ resignation May 8. A coach of Jones’ pedigree, though, doesn’t stay out of work long if he doesn’t want to.
Jones was hired Thursday to lead Chichester’s boys basketball program, replacing Buzz Wood after nine seasons.
“Chi has always been one of those schools as you notice that they’ve improved, and they’re close,” Jones said by phone. “In the Del Val and knowing some of the personnel they have and an AD that’s progressive and wants to win, that sold me. I thought it was a good fit.”
Jones spent 10 years at Penn Wood, piloting the Patriots to a District 1 Class AAAA title and the 2008-09 PIAA AAAA title over York as well as the 2010 final, a loss to Plymouth Whitemarsh.
He stepped down after the 2015-16 season, replaced by former assistant Matt Lindeman, who led the Patriots to the Class 6A state tournament and an outright Del Val title last winter.
Jones, who also propelled Harriton to a District 1 3A title in six seasons before taking the Penn Wood job, led Girard College to the District 1 Class A title in his first season. Girard fell in the PIAA final, 73-56, to District 10’s Kennedy Catholic.
Jones has a long track record against Chichester, losing to them just once in his Penn Wood tenure. He’s long seen them as a dormant program with a chance to build on some modest success with a nudge in the right direction.
“Chi had always played me very tough over the 10 years,” Jones said. “They seemed to be an identity away; they needed to believe they were good enough to win games. They’ve always had good talent. Maybe they just needed a push. I was just excited about to opportunity to come to be part of a budding community, one that’s starving for a winner.”
Chichester endured a 7-15 campaign last year after going 13-13 the previous season, unlucky to miss the postseason via the district’s points system. Last year’s struggles were exacerbated by the transfer of point guard Eric Montanez to St. Thomas More in Delaware before his senior season.
Jones inherits experienced talent, with DaQuan Granberry on the verge of 1,000 points through his junior year and big man Mike Davie in the middle. Jones also anticipates following a similar blueprint as the one that elevated Girard to state-wide relevance.
“I think the challenges are similar,” he said. “When we got to Girard, we also knew they needed an identity and a system and they needed kids to come together and understand that when you’re prepared, can go out and be successful. The important thing there is that those kids did it.”