Jim Boone: A Coach’s Coach
Men’s Basketball | | Matt Jones
CLEVELAND, Miss. – He is the man coaches around the country turn to when they are looking to improve their programs. For the last 29 years, Delta State University head coach Jim Boone has built one of the nation’s most successful careers by creating a culture of success within his basketball teams. His career record of 482-365 speaks to his success on the hardwood, but his real niche has been at the NCAA Division II level, where he has posted a blistering 390-193 mark as a head coach. Boone has taken four different NCAA Division II institutions to the NCAA Tournament, an unprecedented achievement.
For years, the Winfield, W.V., native has shared his knowledge of the game at Nike’s Championship Basketball Clinics across the country. In April, Boone presented his brand of “Grit and Grind” basketball in Pittsburgh, Penn., at Robert Morris College alongside the likes of veteran coaches Bob Knight (Indiana), Jay Wright (Villanova), Shaka Smart (Texas), and Archie Miller (Dayton).
“As a young coach, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from legendary coaches like Don Meyer, Rick Majerus and Bob Knight,” Boone said. “I consider it an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to share our philosophy and ideals to the next generation of coaches like many did for me.”
May 15-17, Boone will present at Nike’s Biloxi Clinic along with Bob Knight, Bob Huggins (West Virginia), Josh Pastner (Memphis), Mike White (Florida) and Chris Holtmann (Butler). The three-day event will be held at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center.
Coach Boone and his staff will host their second annual FREE FALL COACHES CLINIC on October 2-3 at Walter Sillers Coliseum. The two-day event drew more than 100 coaches last year and is expected to top that number this year.
“The game of basketball is meant to be shared and getting to do so with some of the brightest minds in the game each year is a special honor,” Boone added.
“Basketball, as it is taught by Coach Boone, is a formula for success.” Former Louisiana State head coach Dale Brown said. “Jim Boone does not just teach basketball, he teaches life lessons. He has developed a philosophy that exceeds the boundaries of offense and defense. Jim’s programs have been yearly one of the nation’s most successful on any level, and the primary reason, is because he brings an overriding purpose to everything he does. ‘Commitment to Excellence,’ is the credo that Jim has used to oversee the values and principles that govern his teams.”
That commitment to excellence has certainly paid dividends here at Delta State. In 2012-13, Boone inherited a program that had won just six games the year before. In his first season, the Statesmen won 11 games and marched to the quarterfinals of the Gulf South Conference Tournament.
His second season is where Delta State made the most ground. Boone led the Statesmen to one of the best seasons in program history in 2013-2014 with a 26-7 overall record. The Statesmen captured the Gulf South Conference regular season title, made a run to the NCAA Sweet 16 and finished the year ranked No. 12 in the country. For his efforts, Boone’s peers named him GSC Coach of the Year; the seventh time in his career he has captured such an honor.
This past season, Boone turned in one of his best coaching jobs yet, battling several key injuries to three prominent starters to lead the Statesmen to the postseason for a second-straight year. Led by All-American Devin Schmidt, DSU won 15 games and finished in the quarterfinals of the GSC Tournament.
Schmidt averaged 21.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game for the Statesmen. For his efforts, the rising sophomore became the second DSU player ever to be named a finalist for the coveted C-Spire Bailey Howell Trophy.
Prior to taking over as head coach of the Statesmen, Boone spent the 2011-12 season as head coach at West Virginia Wesleyan College, guiding the Bobcats to a school record 22 wins at the DII level and the program’s first ever NCAA Division II Regional Tournament victory.
Under Boone’s leadership, the Bobcats (22-9) defeated perennial DII power Winston Salem State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to West Liberty State.
Boone began his career as a standout player at West Virginia State College where he was a four-year letterman. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Accounting (1981) graduating Cum Laude and followed that with a master’s in business administration from the University of Kentucky (1982) with a concentration in marketing.
His coaching career brought him back to his alma mater, spending three seasons as the head assistant coach from 1982-85. Boone made the jump to NCAA DI basketball in 1986, as an assistant at Charleston Southern University, where the Buccaneers won the Big South Conference Championship.
The championship experience led Boone to California University of Pennsylvania as head coach. Over the next 10 years, Boone led California (Pa.) to unprecedented success, including a 228-71 record, the best over this span in Division II. During this time, Boone’s squads claimed a 31 win season while also being the No. 1 ranked team in the country in 1992, two NCAA DII Final Four appearances, six regular season conference titles, and nine trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Boone (228-71) finished his time with a school-record 228 wins and a .763 win percentage. For his efforts, he was inducted into the California (Pa.) Hall of Fame in 2005.
From California (Pa.), Boone took on the challenge of rebuilding NCAA Division I Robert Morris University, eventually leading the Colonials to the NEC Championship game in 2000. In 1999 and 2000, he led RMU to a record of 25-13 in the NEC and produced two of the best seasons in Colonials history.
Boone left RMU after 2000 to take on the task of turning Eastern Michigan University into a competitive DI program. In five seasons at EMU, Boone quadrupled the program’s wins total and set several Eagles attendance records.
Boone left EMU following the 2005 season to become the head coach at Tusculum College, a member of NCAA DII and the South Atlantic Conference. In 2009, the Pioneers won a school-record 20 games and made their second-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. He still holds the school record for conference wins over a four-year period. Boone recruited and coached two-time SAC Player of the Year and All-American Kyle Moore.
During his career, his teams have recorded 17 or more wins on 16 occasions, including six conference championships, four tournament titles and seven postseason appearances. From 1990-96, his California teams recorded over 20 victories for six consecutive years tallying an impressive 150-33 mark during that span. His 94-24 league record in the PSAC is still the best of any coach in that conference’s history. He was named PSAC Coach of the Year on three occasions (1988, 1992, 1996) and NCAA Region Coach Year twice (1992, 1996).