Hoops Dynasty user aejones has developed his craft over the course of 225 seasons of HD play. With 18 championships to his credit, you'd be hard-pressed to find a hoops coach with more hardware to his name. Particularly adept at the DII and DIII level, aejones has more recently turned his attention to the DI ranks. He fields some questions and shares his winning strategies with the WhatIfSports.com community.
aejones Hoops Dynasty Overall Records
|Game||Seasons||Record||Conf. Champs||Ntl. Champs|
|Hoops Dynasty||225||5,130-1,828 (73.7%)||126||18|
aejones Hoops Dynasty World Records
|World||Current School||Overall Record||Conf. Record||NT Record||Ntl. Champs|
|Naismith||Salisbury||286-165 (63.4%)||138-100 (58.0%)||26-10 (72.2%)||1|
|Wooden||St. John's||702-273 (72.0%)||382-124 (75.5%)||54-18 (75.0%)||3|
|Rupp||UTEP||528-299 (63.8%)||284-154 (64.8%)||33-17 (66.0%)||1|
|Tarkanian||S.W. Baptist||1,202-370 (76.5%)||625-168 (78.8%)||111-36 (75.5%)||6|
|Knight||CMHMS||1,033-474 (68.5%)||531-237 (69.1%)||83-39 (68.0%)||0|
|Phelan||Westminster (MO)||1,379-247 (84.8%)||722-80 (90.0%)||128-38 (77.1%)||7|
WIS: Who is aejones?
aejones: I'm a twenty-something from just outside Chicago (NW Indiana) who went to school at Butler for four years (but didn't quite get a degree) and now lives a pretty typical life as a semi retired poker player who runs a handful of businesses, lives in either Toronto, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, or La Paz (Mexico), and spends most of his time playing, watching, and analyzing basketball. I'm also single so hide your sisters and/or daughters.
WIS: How did you find out about WhatIfSports.com?
aejones: My friend (who happens to be an assistant college basketball coach in real life) introduced me to it years ago but I didn't play much at first-- I can't remember what triggered me to actually get back into it but I caught the buzz just after potential came out and I've been adding teams ever since.
WIS: What are some of your interests and hobbies?
aejones: I read, golf, watch MMA, play strategy games (including some pretty serious fantasy sports keeper leagues), skill games (ping pong, pool) and eat at fancy restaurants (like Chipotle). I take great care of my body by practicing beginner levels of yoga, intermediate levels of powerlifting, and playing copious amounts of pickup basketball. I also watch a lot of NBA. A lot.
I'm always interested in discussing the general ineptitude of professional sports franchises or the genius of guys like Brad Stevens, Pop, and whoever designed the Pacers defensive scheme (probably not Frank Vogel).
WIS: Which five people, past or present, sit at your dream roundtable discussion?
aejones: Probably basketball people-- Brad Stevens, Gregg Popovich, Masai Ujiri, Haralabos Voulgaris, and maybe a Van Gundy. If I had to broaden my horizons I'd probably add Lincoln to make my old man proud.
WIS: Did you play any sports growing up?
aejones: I played basketball and golf in high school and pretty much everything else with the kids in the neighborhood.
WIS: Who are your favorite all-time players?
aejones: I grew up not quite old enough to really appreciate the Jordan Era Bulls, I loved Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter and the late '90s Tar Heels, and I tried to shoot like Ray Allen.
WIS: Do you have any sports-related items on your bucket list that you have not yet done?
aejones: Not really, though if I ever improve at golf I'm sure I'll want to play (insert the name of a famous beautiful golf course that is difficult to get on).
WIS: What is your favorite WIS moment?
aejones: I think one of my multiple title runs with SW Baptist (Tark) or Miles (Wooden). Or maybe making a Final Four with my first recruiting class in D1 at UTEP. Or maybe it was my title 8 seasons after joining Capital in Naismith, widely thought of as the most difficult D3 conference in one of the toughest D3 areas to recruit.
WIS: You have teams representing all three divisions. Do you have a preference for one division over another?
aejones: I really like D2 and prefer the lower levels in general. My reasoning is that it's so much fun to recruit guys that could play D1, or even start at a Big 6 school, to play for you at D2 or D3. When you get a guy like that it's awesome to see his value over other D2/D3 players. D2 > D3 due to more money and ineligibles and increased competition in the level above (you can generally win a battle with a D3 over a D2, but you rarely have a shot against any D1 program).
I do think I am beginning to like D1 more now that I'm improving at recruiting (I was put in pretty difficult circumstances at UTEP and have not lived up to my own expectations).
WIS: In the Wooden world, you are currently coaching St. John's, a team that didn't have a 20-win season for 14 consecutive years before your arrival. Why did you choose to coach at that program? Is it a destination job or a stepping stone for you?
aejones: Most of my jobs are destination jobs, I don't see the appeal in moving around. I have no idea why I was in Wooden to begin with (I was almost definitely just bored and jonesing [pun intended] for a recruiting cycle and stumbled upon signups for Wooden--tell me you haven't done THAT before) but I had a team in Alabama (Miles) in an empty D2 conference and someone promised me a very competitive D3 conference/world, so I jumped at the opportunity. It doubled as an opportunity to try the fastbreak/press combo that I had been wanting to do since I left Fort Lewis in the "Rupp D2 Super-Mega-Awesome Bowl (...that eventually fizzled)." Mixed results thus far.
WIS: You've been the coach at UTEP in Conference USA in the Rupp world for more than 13 seasons now. Past interviewee girt25 is credited for spearheading the C-USA into a Big-6 level conference. Did he recruit you into the conference? How closely do you and other conference members work together in terms of scheduling philosophy and recruiting in order to improve the conference?
aejones: Honestly, I can't remember. I assume he recruited me, yes, because I don't remember going looking for a D1 program. All the coaches in that conference get together every other Thursday at the Turkish Baths for Rub 'n' Tugs from Anastasia and then go to the Sizzler together afterwards, if you want to know our secret.
WIS: S.W. Baptist in the Tarkanian world has been one of your more successful stops, with six national championships. However, you've gone 13 seasons without a championship, losing in the national championship game three times during that stretch. What do you attribute the drought to? Will S.W. Baptist be hanging another championship banner in its near future?
aejones: YES-- SWB will NEVER stop hanging banners. I had one very brief dip, but I've had incredible players in the program and it's definitely my "favorite" (don't tell Westminster). I'd say the drought is due to almost exclusively variance, I lost a bunch of coinflips in a row in the National Championship game. WE WILL RISE AGAIN! (Probably this year, check out Fischer and keep an eye on what Rendon and Gehlert will become...)
WIS: What is your strategy for recruiting? Do you utilize redshirts? Do you guarantee minutes?
aejones: I do it all. I don't think guaranteeing minutes (or even starts, sometimes) is a big deal to win battles because I'll almost always have enough talent to make up for starting a freshman at 1 of 5 positions. Even if it costs me a win or two in the regular season, I'm only worried about getting to the postseason and putting my best lineup on the court for as many minutes as possible.
Redshirts are sweet, especially for JUCO players (who will now get closer to their potential with the extra season of working on their game). They're particularly valuable when building up a program because they allow you to have a player who is extra mature and reaches his caps sooner. An underrated aspect of redshirting is that you have a player in a class already and can use more money for less scholarships which strengthens the overall quality of the class (like, if you sign an ineligible and RS a guy now you have two "free" players in the next class in addition to what you can bring in-- that's a huge head start on the way to a great class when they're Seniors).
WIS: As an experienced player, do you utilize the Player Roles tool?
aejones: No, I don't actually know what it is. Can I get her to play a nurse or a policewoman or... maybe a bunny rabbit?
WIS: What is your general strategy for scheduling?
aejones: I don't have a set in stone strategy. If I need wins to get into the NT, I schedule cupcakes (like SIU, Edwardsville in Tark) on the road; If I just have a great team that I'm looking to test right away against other great teams, I'll probably play a pretty mixed schedule of Home and Away games against anyone who challenges me. Scheduling doesn't matter unless it does-- as long as you don't schedule terrible Sim teams and play them at home, you'll probably be alright (unless you play in a conference that is so hard you can't stay above .500, in which case your team sucks anyways so cry me a river [but yes, you could have made it look like it sucked less by scheduling weaker teams on the road]).
WIS: Do you have any favorite players from any of your HD teams?
At D3: I had a guy named Simon Echevvaria (yea... no guarantees on the spelling) at CMHMS back in the day that I really liked who was a pure PG, I had a PG at Westminster that was almost certainly the best D3 player of all time named Mario Santanna, and if Mario had any competition it would have been John Dennis, a big who looked like he could have been plucked off the bench of North Carolina but was stuck playing D3 somewhere in BFE, Missouri.
At D2: I've had so many studs at Miles and SWB it's difficult to remember them all (including some on recent SWB teams), but Tracey Irvine was probably the best of the bunch. At Miles I had a backcourt of George Tucker and Sean Howard that would have fit right in at a high D1 school (they won back to back titles). I had a guy named Jose Luna drafted at SW, he was incredible (but very slow).
WIS: How much time do you spend on your Hoops Dynasty teams? How much do you think is necessary to be competitive?
aejones: Probably only a few minutes per team daily (I often spend idle time just poking around and seeing if anything needs to be tweaked, but it really only takes something like 15 minutes a day even with 6 teams). During recruiting, much more time. It really depends how long you've been playing and how efficient you are-- I'm sure if given just a minute per day during non recruiting and 15 minutes per day during recruiting I could run a team effectively, but I usually have some free time to search deeper and deeper for recruits. During the season I typically just set my teams and forget about them until the postseason comes around.
At D1 it takes much more time, you can rarely miss cycles (sleep is for the weak) if you want to be competitive.
WIS: If you were to give one piece of advice to a new user, what would it be?
aejones: Read the D2/D3 guide I wrote. Seriously, read it. Then do what it says. Then win a lot of games. Then win some titles. Then after you've won some titles thank me for the titles you've won and ask WIS if they can give me the assist on those titles. Then shower yourself with free seasons of HD and name your first born son "aejones" and send me a picture of his/her birth certificate.
WIS: What is your favorite aspect of Hoops Dynasty?
aejones: I like the concept of molding a young human being to be the best possible STUDENT-athlete he can be, that is why I always put extra minutes in study hall even when it's unnecessary.
WIS: Least favorite?
aejones: I don't really understand baseline prestige and my politically correct self would like to know why WIS thinks it's important to run a simulation game with fake players where teams are still as good as they are in real life. My unpolitically correct self wonders what ass backward moron created this site and messed up a good idea so badly, I want to run a hypothetical where there is no baseline prestige so I can just get Duke in every world and f****** run them into the ground until I get fired (which I hear is pretty hard these days) just to bolster my resume and get the Duke job back and do it again. F*** Duke. Can I say all that?
WIS: What is one feature you want to see implemented in a future update?
aejones: I'd like to be able to see my players' finishing ratings and stats broken down by season. It doesn't seem that hard, but maybe there are communication barriers between WIS and the Russian programmers.
WIS: Who are the users you respect and/or enjoy the most?
aejones: I have respect for quite a few guys who I've played with and against over the years, but I learned the most from (and enjoyed playing against) kmasonbx, who I spent hours talking with about recruiting back when people still used AIM. My time at SWB has been greatly aided by coach_billyg and our rivalry with the GLV and we've sitemailed about various things, including strategy (although it's been a while). More recently I've gotten quite a bit of D1 recruiting help from girt25 who has talked me off the ledge a few times from miscues and given me advice on battling in the trenches with a big time program.
WIS: If you were in one of our games, what sport would you play, at what position, and what would you be rated?
aejones: I'd be a wing in HD. I'd have incredibly low speed and athleticism, passable rebounding, ball handling, and passing, and elite work ethic and perimeter. I can shoot. My friend actually once made a joke HD profile of me, but I can't find it, which is a shame because it was hilarious. (The only thing worse than my speed would be my durability, which would be like a 3.5-- so you'd never recruit me in a game where durability magically mattered.)
WIS: Thanks, aejones, for your time and contributions to WhatIfSports.com.