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|Jones familiar with Miss-Lou|
Newly-hired LSU head men's basketball coach Johnny Jones will have no trouble finding the Miss-Lou area.
Back in the 1980s, as an assistant coach to Dale Brown, Jones recruited Ferriday High's Shawn Griggs and South Natchez High's Vernel Singleton.
Jones became close friends with then-Ferriday High coach Robert Cade and current Natchez High boys basketball coach Mike Martin, putting on clinics for the coaches, while also inviting Cade and Martin to participate in his clinics.
"The thing about it, even when we didn't have a top recruit he would stop by and and spend some time talking and visiting," Cade said. "I will be going down there to support him, but he really in truly supported us when he was in the area."
Cade has no doubt Jones will do well at LSU.
"Johnny is very impressionable," Cade said. "He has great knowledge and has always been a great recruiter. He knows the game very well. He knows the game and the people, especially in Louisiana."
Jones visited Martin in recruiting Singleton and also former Natchez High standout Je'Kel Foster, who ended up signing with Ohio State.
Jones was in his first year as head coach at North Texas when he recruited Foster.
"I am really excited for Johnny," Martin said. "I watched him when he played at LSU when they called him 'Rocket.'
Jones played in the 1981 Final Four as a freshman at Louisiana State University, and later served 12 seasons as an assistant coach at LSU under Dale Brown where the pair returned the 1986 Final Four.
Martin said Jones will do a great job as head coach at LSU.
"Johnny is committed to LSU and he is a super competitor," Martin said. "He did a great job at North Texas. He has a great recruiting base in Louisiana and do a great job of bringing the excitement back to LSU basketball."
Singleton still ranks eighth among all LSU players in field goal percentage (.560) in a career from 1988-92, scoring 1,513 total points. He was named first team All-SEC after averaging 14.3 points per game in 1992. Singleton was named to the All-Decade team at LSU for the 1990s.
"I'm extremely excited about Coach Jones taking over the men's basketball program," Singleton said. "I'm confident that he will return the Tigers to major relevance within the SEC and nationally. We spent four years together in which he helped cultivate my competitive spirit, drive, confidence, and overall game. He is a player's coach, able to relate and effectively communicate, thereby getting the best out of his players. He is purple and gold through and through. It's in his DNA. His personality will undoubtedly lure big time players from outside the state, and assuredly keep the most talented players within the state. I'm very proud of LSU and Coach Jones."
There have been no area players at LSU since Singleton and Griggs, who still holds the school record for most steals in a game with 10 against Tennessee in 1991.
You can bet Johnny Jones will do a better job of recruiting the area. After all, he doesn't need a road map.
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