Neville E. Guard / USA TODAY Sports

Cal hires assistant Wyking Jones to replace head basketball coach Cuonzo Martin

Wyking Jones has reportedly taken over for his old boss, Cuonzo Martin, as head coach at California.

UPDATED 2:05 p.m., March 24: Cal has officially confirmed the hire.

UPDATED 2:53 p.m., March 24: A quote from commit Grant Anticevich has been added.

Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports has reported that a source has told him that California will promote assistant Wyking Jones will be promoted to head coach. The Bay Area News Group's Jon Wilner is also hearing that from a source. As of yesterday, Jones had not interviewed for the job, according to a source familiar with the search.

The contract will be for five years, according to a Cal spokesman. "I am extremely excited to be taking over at Cal as the new men's basketball head coach," Jones said in a statement. "To be able to lead this incredible group of men is a dream come true for me. When I left Louisville and decided to come home to California, I was stepping out on faith, but I knew in my heart this was where I needed to be. Coach Martin left an unbelievable foundation for the program and we will work hard to continue to elevate Cal basketball. I want fans to know that I'm excited to coach these guys, not only for what they can do on the court but to continue to cultivate them as young men."

Jones, an Inglewood, Calif., native, is married to Estrella Jones, a Berkeley native. His sister-in-law, Na'ila Nasir, UC Berkeley's Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion and has been a Cal faculty member since 2008.

This would be Jones's first head coaching job. Given that new chancellor Carol Christ comes on in July with the directive to cut costs, particularly in athletics, this may very well be a cost-saving move, rather than hiring a more expensive, big-name replacement for Martin. It also serves to keep some level of continuity.

One main reason for keeping Jones -- who was named the interim head coach after the departure of Cuonzo Martin -- was to retain a recruiting class consisting of three four-stars, one delayed enrollee and one international commit. Juhwan Harris-Dyson and Jemarl Baker have signed National Letters of intent, and Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei's Justice Sueing is committed, but has not yet signed. Trevin Knell, out of Woods Cross (Utah), will go on his LDS mission, and will delay enrollment for two years, but is an elite-shooting three-star guard. Grant Anticevich out of Australia is also committed. 

Sueing tweeted "GO BEARS" shortly after the news was broken, and would seem to be still on board. Harris-Dyson's father has told our Josh Gershon that his son will remain committed to the Bears.

Anticevich told BearTerritory, over text from Australia: "It's great news, I'm really excited. Go Bears!"

"Wyking exudes all of the characteristics we want in a head coach," athletic director Mike Williams said in a statement. "He is a person of high character who understands what it takes to thrive on and off the court. He has an affinity for Cal and its values, he has developed strong relationships with the student-athletes he coaches, and he has experienced success at the highest levels of the sport. Over the two years he has been in Berkeley, we have seen without a doubt that Wyking can coach, teach and be a leader of young men. We fully believe our men's basketball program is on an upward trajectory, and Wyking is poised to continue that momentum and take our program to even greater heights."

Williams noted that the search consulted "with several Cal basketball alumni, as well as a multiple NBA and college coaches – some of the most experienced basketball minds in the game," and that, ultimately, the Bears "came back to where we started and found what we wanted right here in Berkeley."

Jones has been a tireless recruiter for the Bears during his short, two-year stint in Berkeley.

"Wyking is a five-star recruiter, a five-star coach and a five-star person," said Jones's former boss, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, who has now seen 31 former assistants move on to become head coaches.

Jones is also versatile, able to coach both guards and big men, and is a master when it comes to coaching technique on the floor.

"I'm ecstatic about the news," said freshman guard Charlie Moore, who was thought by some to be a likely transfer, following Martin to Missouri. "Coach Wyking is great with the players, knows his spots and gives us the confidence to go out there without looking over our shoulders." 

"I was recruited by Coach Wyking when I was first looking at schools," said forward Marcus Lee, who sat out this year after his transfer from Kentucky, but will be eligible to play next season. "We were two California guys in Kentucky who started out as rivals but remained close. I saw him being able to do great things, and to start his head coaching career with him as my head coach is the best thing I could picture happening. Having him as my head coach now is one of the best things I could ever see." has an engaging personality, is a very good recruiter and has an eye for talent. Beyond that, he coached under Pitino for four seasons at Louisville, during which the Cardinals went 123-30, reached one NCAA title game and two Final Fours. If there are X's and O's to be drawn, he has the requisite background.

During his time on the Cardinals’ coaching staff, Louisville sported a combined record of 123-30. The Cardinals won the 2013 NCAA Championship and reached two Final Fours over the past four seasons. Louisville completed the 2014-15 season with a 27-9 record, reaching the NCAA Tournament regional final.

Prior to joining Pitino, Jones served two seasons on the coaching staff at New Mexico where the Lobos won 52 games combined during his tenure, including a school-record 30-win campaign in 2010. New Mexico finished the 2010 season ranked eighth in the Associated Press national poll. 

Jones served as an assistant coach for five seasons from 2002-06 at Pepperdine, where he was the Waves’ recruiting coordinator. He got his start in coaching at his alma mater, Loyola Marymount, during the 1996-97 season. 

Jones himself was a standout at LMU from 1991-95 under head coach John Olive, where his 1,076 career points rank 24th all-time in the program’s history. Jones also collected 493 career rebounds during his career with the Lions. He was a two-time All-West Coast Conference selection, highlighted by a 19.7 ppg. average as a junior. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Loyola Marymount in 1995. 

Jones played professional basketball from 1995-2001 in Italy, France, Japan, Lebanon and South Korea. He also served on the staff at Nike Elite Youth Basketball (EYBL) for two years from 2007-08 -- one of the premier summer league circuits for recruiting -- as a basketball travel team manager, managing 45 travel teams and the tournaments that Nike sponsored in its grassroots youth program. 

He's also one of the few people in the world of college sports who have an IMDB page.  Jones has appeared in multiple films, including “The Wood,” “Dope,” “Brown Sugar” and “Benchwarmers.” He was the co-executive producer of a movie called “Studio” in 2007. Top Stories