WAND Sports is spotlighting positive examples of fatherhood in sports leading up to Father's Day weekend and beyond.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WAND) -- You can't talk about the synergy between fatherhood and basketball in Central Illinois without talking about the Jones family of Champaign.
Verdell Jones, Jr. lives out his calling as a father of three boys, two of whom played Big Ten basketball. But he also applies the same fatherly love in his time away from home too, instilling strict academic standards and a mentorship-based approach to coaching basketball. In turn, the Urbana Tigers have won back-to-back regional titles for the first time since the 1940-41 and 1941-42 seasons.
As for his boys, their involvement on and off the court is what you would expect from Verdell, Jr.'s kids. Verdell III averaged double figures for Indiana, multiple professional leagues overseas, the Santa Cruz Warriors of the G-League and now is part owner of a Champaign area construction company. Clayton is the epitome of hard work, scratching and clawing his way to the hometown Illini, a team he dreamed of growing up. Now he gives back to the community through the game of basketball, instilling the same values his dad instilled in him. AJ, the youngest of the three, took a slightly different path after high school, not playing basketball but still very much reflecting the attentive fatherhood with his own daughter that he learned from his dad.
Stay tuned for the many, many topics that were not aired! This extended version contains questions like "Who was your basketball hero? What was the most embarrassing thing your dad did growing up? What was the toughest lesson you learned from your dad?" Plus we discuss Verdell, Jr.'s success building Urbana into a winning program, Verdell III helping get the Ft. Sooy Foundation (For The Sake Of Our Youth) back up and running and much more!