Elbert Jones is the 11th person affiliated with the men's basketball program to be inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame. Jones is widely considered the first great athlete to play sports at USC Upstate.
He joined the men's basketball program in 1968, the second year of athletics at the University, when the school was a two-year institution. He played for two seasons and set the standard for future athletes at the University.
Jones, who grew up in Spartanburg and graduated from Dorman High School, was simply outstanding on the court. He averaged a double-double for his career, scoring 19.5 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. He finished his career with 585 points and 354 rebounds. He ranks in the top 50 all-time in scoring and in the top 20 all-time in rebounding, taking individuals more than five years to surpass his totals in both categories.
After a 4-10 inaugural season, head coach Paul Mack brought in a group of players who he believed would transform the program. Jones was the central figure in building the foundation for the basketball and athletics program at Upstate. Though the team struggled to a 3-8 record in Jones' first season in 1968-69, the team looked poised for success.
Success came a year later when Jones led Upstate, known then as the USC Spartanburg Fighting Bantams, to a nine-win season under first-year head coach and Athletics Hall of Fame member Dr. Joe Bowman. Jones earned all-conference honors in the Carolina League and was voted the team Most Valuable Player after leading the Bantams to a second-place finish in the regular season and conference tournament. He averaged 21.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.
After spending two years at Upstate, Jones transferred to the Columbia campus and graduated with a bachelor's degree in business in 1972. He went on to have a successful business career in sales, working for RJR Foods, Lever Brothers Co., and Sturm Foods. He rose to the level of Vice President of Sales for Sturm Foods. He left Sturm and formed a real estate and property management company. Though currently semi-retired, he has continued to stay involved in the business world through several projects, most recently in invenstment property.
Jones lives in Greensboro, Ga., with his wife of 40 years, Vicki. The couple has two children and two grandchildren with a third grandchild expected in May. He has not lost touch with the Spartanburg area and returns often to visit his mother who still lives in the city and his two brothers and sister, who remain in the area.