Birthplace: Racine, WI
Did You Know?: All five of his children would eventually become Division 1 basketball players.
The trend of basketball players leaving college early for the pros or skipping college altogether is familiar these days. At one time, however, it was not.
Like in 1972, when Racine native Jim Chones chose to forego his senior season at Marquette to play professional basketball. After being named that season to the UPI and AP College All-American First Team and playing in the 1972 Pan American Games that year, Chones decided to go pro. That made him just the second player in NCAA history to leave college before graduating to turn pro.
It’s safe to say the decision worked out, as Chones enjoyed a successful 10-year pro career that began in the American Basketball Association with the New York Nets in 1973 and the Carolina Cougars in 1974. Chones joined the National Basketball Association for the 1974-75 season as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. That was arguably his most successful season, as he averaged 15.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. He played a total of five years for the Cavaliers, and in April 1991 was chosen by Cavs fans at the center position for the “Classic Cavs Team” covering the first 20 years of franchise history.
Chones played three more seasons after leaving Cleveland in 1979, including a 1980 campaign in which he captured an NBA &!@*#le as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. Chones finished his NBA career with the Washington Bullets in 1982 then played a couple seasons in Italy.
Upon retirment, Chones began a lengthy broadcasting career that included stints with ESPN and CBS Sports. Currently, Chones works as the Coordinator of Sports and Leagues for the City of Bedford Heights, Ohio.
Chones was born in Racine on Nov. 30, 1949. He and his wife have five children, including Kaayla, who was drafted by the WNBA’s Washington Mystics in 2004. And, yes, Chones went back to college, eventually earning his degree in philosophy. He was inducted into the Marquette University Hall of Fame in October 2004.
Birth name: James Bernett Chones
Born: November 30, 1949
School/Training: Marquette, Racine St. Catherine’s