Stetson Hatters head coach Donnie Jones [Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports]

Former Florida Assistant Coach Leads Stetson To Its First March Madness

Former Florida Gators men’s basketball assistant coach Donnie Jones made history with Stetson’s program last week by leading the Hatters to their first NCAA Tournament.


Jones was an assistant coach from 1996-2006 and the Associate Head Coach during the 2006-07 season for the Gators under Billy Donovan. Jones played a crucial role in the program’s recruiting and player development that led to a school-record nine consecutive NCAA appearances, three Final Fours and four SEC Tournament titles.

Jones is no stranger to making history, as he was part of the Florida coaching staff under Donovan that guided the Gators to win its first national championship in 2006. In his final year with Florida (2007), Jones was, again, successful with the program, helping lead the Gators win back-to-back national championships.

Florida is the last NCAA team to win back-to-back national titles.

Time at Stetson

Jones joined the Hatters during the 2019-2020 season after a one-year stint as assistant coach at Dayton. Prior to that, Jones was the head coach for the UCF Knights from 2010 to 2016.

Following his debut season with Stetson, Jones led the team to participate in its first NCAA Division 1 postseason play in school history, earning an invitation to the College Basketball Invitational.

During the 2022-2023 season, Stetson’s conference record of 12-6 was the best for the Hatters since the 1986-1987 season and the second most wins in program history. Under Jones, the Hatters made school history by marking their best stats with 303 3-point field goals and a .773 free-throw percentage that season.

Road to Qualifying

This season, the Hatters went on to have a 19-12 regular season record, while claiming 11-5 in the Atlantic Sun conference.

Heading into the ASUN conference tournament, the Hatters were the No. 2 seed, trailing right under the No.1 EKU. Stetson made it to the final game where it beat No.4 Austin Peay 94-91 to win its first ASUN championship title.

Stetson’s Jalen Blackmon, who led the ASUN in scoring this season at 21.5 points per game, displayed a career-best performance in the conference tournament championship, putting up 43 points. Blackmon’s showcase earned him the title of MVP of the tournament.

NCAA Tournament

Jones and the No.16 Hatters are set to travel to Brooklyn, where they will face the defending national champions, No.1 UConn at 2:45 p.m. on Friday at the Barclays Center.

About Andrea Castiblanco

Andrea is a junior at the University of Florida studying Journalism- Sports and Media with a minor in economics.

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