To say basketball is in the Jones family is a bit of an understatement.
Wali Jones, a former NBA player with a bevy of teams including the 76ers(who he won a title with in 1967), may be the only household name in the bunch, but he certainly isn’t the only one who can play ball.
“My son, Mukit played for a championship team in Philadelphia,” Jones said, tracing his basketball heritage. “Another son,Kahhar played for Ben Franklin High, and my brother Bobby played for a championship team in Overbrook before I did. My younger brother Bill Jones played for a championship team in West Philly High.”
It doesn’t stop there. Jones’ two other sons, Askia and Wali Jr. could play as well — Askiaonce scored 62 points in an NIT game with Kansas State and had a brief stint in the NBA while Wali Jr.played for Walt Hazard at Chapman college.
“We talk championships,” Jones said. “We talk about character and championships.”
Jones’ granddaughter, Elan Wali, hopes to be the next great basketball player in her family. Already a starter as a ninth grader on her varsity squad at High School of Engineering and Science, her aspirations are high.
“She has a great family around her and we talk basketball and their experiences,” Jones said. “Me as a grandfather, she has her uncles, her dad and her great uncles. In her development she is constantly hearing the importance of being a good student and working hard. These are important values to instill in all my children and grandchildren.”
Elan, 14, started playing hoops at age 10 and quickly learned she had a knack for the game. A natural lefty, her coaches taught her to shoot and drive with her right, making her a lethal threat offensively.
“I’m proud of being a girl who can play basketball,” Elansaid.”When I play with boys they treat me like, ‘oh she can’t play,’ but when I beat them, they want to play again, it’s fun.”
With so many role models in her family on and off the basketball court, Elandoesn’t need to go far for advice. And her grandfather is the first to offer her help — mainly with the under-appreciatedattribute of endurance, a skill that helped Wali in his playing career in the 1960s and 70s.
“She works hard,” Jones said of his granddaughter.”She works a lot. I am working her on the importance of conditioning. I was a runner, in cross country and track at Overbrook HS and that helped me with my career in the NBA and ABA. It’s about conditioning. She’s a young lady who works hard. She has a dream, like I did, to play college ball.”
“The lineage is there. It’s so important for my family and my grandkids to know, they have it in their genes.”