Job as HCHS coach ‘a dream come true’ for Jones


Kyle Jones has been named the new boys basketball coach at Harlan County High School.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

From birth to his first job as a high school coach, basketball has played a huge role in Kyle Jones’ life.
When Jones was less than a year old, his family moved to Harlan County and they lived just behind the James A. Cawood High School gym. His father, Mike, was beginning a coaching career that made him one of the state’s all-time greats with 613 victories.
The younger Jones succeeds his brother, Michael, as the new boys basketball coach at Harlan County High School. School officials selected Jones as the coach after interviews Tuesday at the school. Jones was the head coach for the seventh- and eighth-grade team at James A. Cawood the past six seasons.
“It’s a dream come true. I grew up in a basketball family and have been around it all my life,” Jones said. “An opportunity presenting itself like this is once in a lifetime for me, especially in the town I grew up in.”
Jones played for his father at Harlan High School, scoring 1,096 points as a four-year starter. He played on Harlan’s last regional championship team in 1996 and was a leader on the 1999 squad that lost to Clay County in the regional finals. Jones was the region player of the year as a senior and went on to Cumberland College. The 1999 team also featured junior forward Gary Greer, who has been part of the HCHS coaching staff for 12 years and has led the Bears this summer as interim coach.
Jones says he learned a lot about the game from his father, who was the first basketball coach at HCHS and holds the record for wins with Harlan County teams with 408.
“He always did things the right way,” Jones said. “He didn’t win every game, but that was never because he wasn’t prepared. He’s meant everything to me. This will be as proud a moment for him as me.”
Jones inherits a team that posted a 19-11 record last season, missing the regional tournament for only the third time in the 14-year history of the program. Four starters are back, including all-state junior guard Trent Noah, sophomore point guard Maddox Huff, senior wing Daniel Carmical and junior guard Jonah Swanner. The Bears were ranked as high as second in the 2023 preseason 13th Region rankings.
“I think we’re right in line to win a district title and compete for a regional championship,” Jones said. “Goals won’t change because we have a new coach. My goal is to win district and regional titles. It will be a learning curve for me, and I know that, but I’m willing to work and learn with my coaching staff. I feel I’ve been groomed for this all my life.”