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Tom Miller / Forum News Service, Published July 12 2013

UND men's basketball coach Jones gets contract extension

GRAND FORKS – With a big senior class preparing for its final season, University of North Dakota men’s basketball coach Brian Jones will usher in large recruiting classes the next couple of years.

Those recruits now know their head coach is in for the long haul.

Jones received a contract extension Friday, a deal that locks up the UND coach through the 2016-17 season.

“I’m extremely grateful to our leadership for believing in what we’re doing here,” Jones said from a gym while on a recruiting trip in the Midwest. “We want to continue to build this thing consistently – not on an every-other-year basis.”

With the deal, Jones receives a pay bump from a base salary of $86,334 to $100,000. The increase still puts Jones at the bottom of the 11-team Big Sky Conference in compensation among league head coaches – tied with Southern Utah’s Nick Robinson in the latest coaching salary reports.

“Coach Jones has a clear blueprint for this program and the results are showing,” UND athletic director Brian Faison said. “This team has had as much success as any team transitioning to the Division I level in recent years, including three straight CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament berths.

“We saw the immediate success his team had during its first year in the Big Sky. With the program heading in the right direction, we are happy to show him this level of commitment by extending his contract.”

Jones led UND to a 12-8 record in the Big Sky Conference last season. The 12 wins were the most wins ever by a league newcomer and his squad’s third-place finish also was the best by a first-year member.

Junior Troy Huff was one of two unanimous All-Big Sky First Team selections after leading the league in scoring at 19.2 points per game. He was named to the All-Big Sky Tournament Team and the Lou Henson Mid Major All-American Team. Classmate Aaron Anderson averaged a career-high 13.3 points per game en route to All-Big Sky Second Team accolades.

Jones will have that duo back along with five more of his top eight scorers for the 2013-14 season that will also see the addition of Texas Tech transfer Jaron Nash.

Although Jones’ team will be heavy on seniors next season, the coach is setting his sights on avoiding a rebuilding project the following year.

“I don’t want that, and it all starts by knowing you’re going to be at the same place,” Jones said. “I have so much passion and pride in this thing because we’ve built it up from the ground floor.”

Miller writes for the Grand Forks Herald