Some call it ‘paying your dues’ when an apprenticeship is served in any occupation but ‘becoming prepared’ is the more accurate description in the case of Derrick Jones. He spent eight years as associate head coach to Coach Steve Coccimiglio at Diablo Valley College and now is in charge of the men’s basketball program at Merritt College in Oakland.

“I’m excited,” Jones offered. He teaches in Oakland and called his new job a case of “being in the right spot and being ready.” Asked about the pressure of moving into a head coach position, the seat a proverbial 18 inches over from an assistant role, he explained, “it’s not too much different. Coach Coccimiglio gave me a lot of freedom and that helped prepare me. My goal is to raise quality young men and give them mentorship. I’ve been an educator for over 12 years and that will continue.”

Jones is currently immersed in assembling his squad. “We’re off to a really good start at putting a team together. I know a lot of people and it feels good when they believe in you.” He expects that process to be completed very soon.

So what will Thunderbird fans see on the court? “Our style may change from year-to-year because we’ll play to the strengths of my players. We don’t want to pre-determine,” noting that bringing in a certain style of play won’t mean success if his players aren’t a good match for such a style.

Regarding his new location, Jones said, “after I left my interview, I sat in my car in the parking lot for 40 minutes just looking at the views. I could almost see the entire Bay Area.”

“I want to thank everyone who has contributed to my success: definitely my parents, my wife and daughter who are my support system, Coach Coccimiglio, (Coach) Miguel Johnson at Contra Costa College who has been a mentor and all my coaching colleagues and young men who played for and trained with me.”

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