By Matt Jones, Delta State Athletics
Jim Boone finishes his sixth season (109-73) as head coach of the Delta State University Statesman basketball program. Boone completed the 2017-18 campaign with 539 total career victories, which ranks him 12th among active Division II coaches for wins and in Division II’s Top 50 All-Time Winningest Coaches. The veteran leader, who reached the 500 win plateau during the 2016 season, brings 32 years of collegiate head coaching experience to Delta State, including stops at the NCAA Division I and II levels.
His career record speaks to his success on the hardwood, but his real niche has been at the NCAA DII level. At the helm of DII institutions, Boone has posted a blistering 447-239 mark as a head coach, guiding each of his four Division II schools to the NCAA Tournament, an unprecedented accomplishment. Boone’s 94 wins as the Statesmen mentor in his first five seasons are the most in DSU school history, and his 109 DSU victories ranks him third in program history. Boone’s teams have been dominate in GSC play, posting a conference mark of 68-38 over the past five seasons, the second best record in GSC games during this period.
The Winfield, W.V., native led the Statesmen to the Gulf South Conference Championship in a season filled with adversity. The Statesmen made their third consecutive trip to the GSC semifinals in Birmingham, making DSU the only school to do that in each of the last three seasons. Two season-ending injuries to players that helped guide DSU to the NCAA Tournament in 2017, one to Cedric Harper and one to Ravion Henry, left Boone to guide a young squad. Delta State lost Harper before the season and Henry nine games into the campaign, but rallied together as they won seven of their last 10 games en route to reaching the championship finale at the Pete Hanna Center, on the campus of Samford University, in Birmingham, Ala. Under Boone’s veteran experience and leadership, DSU ousted 4th seeded Lee University on the road while holding the Flames scoreless (0-for-12) from beyond the three-point line, the first time the Flames were unable to hit a three-point basket in a game all year. Tasked next with stopping the 14th ranked Valdosta State Blazers and their top 10 offense, the Statesmen turned in a gritty defensive performance in a 63-59 win to reach the title game. Valdosta State had scored 94 points per game, but DSU held them to 39 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent shooting from three-point territory to earn a the GSC Championship matchup with the 12th ranked West Florida Argonauts. Delta State’s defensive dominance continued against the Argos, holding them to 50 points in regulation, their season low, before falling 71-65 in double overtime.
Boone led the Statesmen to their 16th NCAA Tournament appearance in 2016-17, where they advanced to the second round and closed the year with a 23-9 record. Senior guard Devin Schmidt was named to the NABC All-America Team for the second consecutive season, while breaking the 40 year GSC all-time scoring record. Schmidt finished a brilliant career under Boone’s tutelage as the most decorated and prolific scorer in DSU history. During Schmidt’s four seasons, the Statesmen were one of only two GSC programs to average over 20 wins per year, and were among the top four programs in wins and winning percentage in the highly competitive NCAA South Region.
In 2013-14, Boone led the Statesmen to one of their best seasons in program history, as they captured the Gulf South Conference regular season title and made a run to the NCAA Sweet 16. Led by Schmidt, a freshmen, Delta State went 26-7 overall and finished the season ranked No. 12 in the country. For his efforts, Boone’s peers named him GSC Coach of the Year, marking the seventh time in his career he has captured such an honor.
Senior power forward Willie Readus was named GSC Player of the Year, while Schmidt was selected the GSC Freshman of the Year. The duo earned All-GSC first team accolades. Readus was a consensus first team All-South Region selection by Daktronics and the National Association of Basketball Coaches, while Schmidt was named second team.
Several individual marks also fell during the season, as senior guard Cornel Knight cracked the school’s career top 10 list for assists with 249 and sophomore shooting guard Jack Madgen climbed into the career charts for made 3-pointers with 95.
In all, the Statesmen completed a two-year turnaround of a program that had won just six games the year before Boone took over in 2012-13. The 17-game improvement represents the best among NCAA Division II institutions over this period of time.
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 Championship appearance.
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) 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 and primary recruiter from 1982-85 at WVSC. 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.
That 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. During his time with the Vulcans, Boone’s squads 1992 squad posted 31 wins and was the number one team in the country. Boone also added two NCAA DII Final Four appearances, six regular season conference titles and six trips to the NCAA Tournament at the helm of the Vulcans.
Boone (228-71) finished his time with a school-record 228 wins and a .763 win percentage. Boone was inducted into the California (Pa.) Hall of Fame in 2005.
From California (Pa.), Boone moved on to 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 EMU attendance records.
Boone left EMU after the 2005 season for Tusculum College, a member of NCAA DII and the South Atlantic Conference. In 2009, the Pioneers won a school-record 20 games and the made its second-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. He still holds the school record for conference wins over a four-year period at Tusculum, and recruited and coached two-time SAC Player of the Year and All-American Kyle Moore.
During his career, Boone’s teams have won seven conference championships, four tournament titles and have made eleven 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).
He is married to the former Stephanie VanVranken and they are the proud parents of two sons, Jimmy and Joey.
What They’re Saying About Coach Boone:
“Jim Boone is an outstanding person and coach. Delta State is very fortunate to have Coach Boone run their program. With over 500 wins, Jim is someone of courage, ability and a tremendous leader.”
– Mike Krzyzewski, HOF Head Coach Duke University
“Jim Boone is great, a great coach….he is as good a tactician as their is in the country….class guys play for Jim Boone.”
– Dan Dakich, ESPN College Basketball Analyst
“Coach Boone has established himself in the coaching community as one of the nations premiere teachers. I have tremendous respect for Coach Boone. He is an outstanding basketball coach, and his basketball programs are synonymous with excellence.”
– Herb Sendek, Head Coach Santa Clara University
“Basketball, as it is taught by Coach Boone, is a formula for success. 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 to the values and principles that govern his teams.”
– Dale Brown, HOF and retired Head Coach Louisiana State University
“Coach Boone’s knowledge of Motion Offense and his Pack Line Defense, coupled with his ability to teach it effectively is unparalleled. His teams are always fundamentally sound, extremely well coached and very, very good offensively and defensively.”
– Don Meyer, HOF Coach and retired Head Coach Northern State University
“No one, and I mean no one else does a better job of preparation, putting together a game plan, and then executing it than Coach Boone does with his teams. They were always the most prepared team we faced.”
– Tim Buckley, Former Head Coach Ball State University