Former Port St. Joe track and field coach Scott Gowan wasted little time in adding another Tiger Shark to his Thomas University roster by signing Amani Jones to a scholarship on Friday, June 10.
Thomas University, located in Thomasville, Georgia, competes at the NAIA level in the Sun Conference as the Night Hawks.
Jones, who averaged 11 points per game and 9.5 rebounds per game on this year’s state semi-final basketball team, won silver in the triple jump at the 2021 state 1A track meet as a junior, with a leap of 36 feet, a personal best.
“I was looking forward to her coming back her senior year and being state champion in the triple, and running on the 4×100 (relay team) that possibly could have been state champion as well,” said Keion McNair, Port St. Joe track coach.
With the passing of her grandmother following basketball season, “it was hard on her, and she couldn’t bring herself back (to run track),” said McNair. “But toward the end of (the season) she started coming back out and being around the team.”
“Just (from) what she did as a junior,” said McNair, “her numbers were good enough to have (college) coaches notice her” and consider her for a scholarship.
Gowan, as McNair’s high school coach, had the inside “track” in winning a commitment from Jones..
“I told (Gowan) how much I believed in her, how bright her future could be in the sport and in the classroom,” said McNair. “And after seeing her and knowing how she did her junior year, he said ‘I need her’.”
After visiting the campus and talking to Gowan, Jones felt like she had found her next home.
Thanking Gowan, her parents, and her teammates, Jones reserved special praise for McNair, “an amazing coach who never gave up on me and was always teaching me.”