With a tip of the cap to leedawg, Mark Fox and the Georgia men's hoops program made the long expected move of promoting Jonas Hayes from the position of operations coordinator to assistant coach. He fills the spot vacated when Kwanza Johnson left to join Trent Johnson's staff at TCU.
The 2004 graduate from the University of Georgia's College of Family and Consumer Sciences, Hayes joined Fox's staff last year after 5 years as an assistant under Steve Miss at Bemont Abbey in North Carolina. He has also sat on the bench as an assistant at South Carolina St, Morehouse, and Douglas HS in Atlanta.
Hayes played 3 seasons for the Dawgs in the early part of this century, 2 under Jim Harrick and a senior season with Dennis Felton. The 6'5 or 6'6 big man (who was comically listed at 6'8 that senior season) averaged 8.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in those 3 seasons, which included a never-seen game winning 3 at Colorado his sophomore season. He couldn't rise and dunk on someone like his twin brother Jarvis (currently playing in Israel after 7 years in the NBA), so Jonas relied on his soft shooting touch, as well as his hustle and smarts, to get things done around the paint. He also had excellent footwork on the blocks, and should be able to pass on some of this knowledge to our big men as they strive to become more consistent contributors next winter (I'm staring at you, Nemi Djurisic and Donte Williams).
In addition to being able to spend more time working with the players on the floor, the promotion to assistant also allows the Atlanta native to get out on the road recruiting. He can go to AAU events, meet with old friends and former teammates/opponents/coaches around the state and the southeast, go on in-home visits and impress mama in her living room, etc. It is a much larger role in building the future of the basketball program. The biggest complaint many have had with Mark Fox's program so far has been his problematic in-state recruiting. While Hayes may not fix the problem, he should improve that area to some degree.
"I'm just really excited and grateful for the opportunity," Hayes said. "This past year has been a valuable experience for me. I've learned so much from Coach Fox that it's difficult to put into words how much it will help me going forward. And to be able to represent Georgia and help young people grow on and off the court; that's an opportunity that I will cherish for a lifetime."
If you can't tell, this is a damn good Dawg, and proud representative of the University of Georgia. He should be a tremendous salesman for what this program can mean to a young man, and how much it can do for them, as he's seen it happen in himself, his brother, and several friends.
Of course, I'd be remiss if I did not mention that promoting Hayes leaves his former position open. It'll be interesting to see just what Mark Fox does to fill it. There are a lot of possibilities, from a newcomer dying to be given a chance to an old head looking for a place to finish a long, fruitful career (like say recently "retired" Jacksonville St head coach and former assistant under Hugh Durham in Athens, Tevester Anderson). Adding someone who, like Hayes, knows the state well and is known well by those around the state, could go a long ways toward solving that recruiting riddle that has always, and I mean always, plagued the program.