Every now and then I hear this:

I am asked has the state ever had a tall 9th-grader with as much upside as Chris Moore of West Memphis? I can’t answer that because I moved to Central Florida in 1969. I remember that year for several reasons, most important is that I married an angel from the wilds of South Arkansas. Basketballwise I remember that a school from Rohwer, Ark., won a state championship. That school, which at one time was called Desha Central, had a 6-7 9th-grader who moved up to the varsity after the junior high season and helped make the team unbeatable. Major Jones was the player’s name and he went on play in the NBA. Caldwell Jones, Major’s brother was also on that team and at 6-11 he also went on the NBA. I think Arkansas tried really hard to recruit Major and Caldwell but had no chance because it was a family tradition that the Jones boys would go to a school in Georgia where at least two other of the Jones brothers had played. Quite a family of basketball players, if you ask me. The Joneses lived a few miles west of Kelso, Ark. And they weren’t included in the 1950 Census. That Census listed only 27 for Kelso. I knew all 27 quite well because I was one of them. The Census really missed a chance to make Kelso more populated because there were 18, including 16 kids, living in an old about 100 yards from the Baptist Church. So, I am still fond of the Arkansas Delta.

It’s kind of hard to keep up with the Joneses because there were so many of them. I think Wilbur played in the ABA and the youngest, Charles, also had a cup of coffee in the NBA. The oldest, Oliver coached at Albany State, which is where they all played. Major may have played D-2 ball in college, but he was a major college talent. Caldwell was one of the best defensive Centers in the NBA and I think won a championship with the Sixers. That could be the most productive basketball family in history. I guess the Barry’s could make a case, but I don’t know who else.

Good stuff on the Jones. That was one heck of time to have that type of talent in a small community like that.

Corliss was 6’5 in ninth grade and was already “a man”.

The Jones’ boys is an amazing story. 4 of them played in the NBA (the other 2 played minor league ball) with Caldwell probably having the most success.

I remember reading this story as a kid.

http://www.si.com/vault/1983/10/17/6203 … -good-road

thanks for the link

My family is from Dumas, Arkansas City, and Lake Villiage… I have heard stories of Paul Bryant and the Jones brothers my whole life… Lots of hard working folks from the Delta…

I saw Corliss, all 6-foot-5 of him, play tight end for Russellville Junior High one Saturday morning while in Russellville for an Arkansas Tech game that night. Talk about a man among boys. They’d just throw it high to him and the opposing secondary wanted no part of him, and I don’t blame them.

Read a ark demo piece by Henry that said major Jones and Loyd b free were both set to play for van Eman. Couldn’t get them in school.

I think I do remember that Lloyd Free (later known as World) was set to come to UA but he wound up in an NAIA school in North Carolina. Which more or less tells you he couldn’t get into school a whole lot of places. Major and World are about the same age, and would have been in the early Van Eman regime. But by that time, the Jones train to Albany State (playing for his brother, IIRC) was well established.

I wouldn’t entirely rule out that LVE tried to get Major into UA, though. Almer Lee had already broken the color barrier for UA basketball. And a team with Martin Terry, Dean Tolson, Major Jones and Lloyd Free could have done some serious balling.

One of the football coaches ran off Free while LVE was out of town

Another interesting Jones story: The youngest, Charles did not play high school basketball. Went on to Albany State and played several years in the NBA.

Sounds like there’s a little more to the story. Can you elaborate any?

Great post, beejay! Grew up in the delta myself! ghg

I covered the state tournament with the Jones brothers. It was something to see. I believe it was Class B. I was in high school. I recall many college coaches there. But all knew it would be Albany State.