California fires coach Jones after 8-23 season

California has fired men’s basketball coach Wyking Jones after just two seasons.

Jones was promoted to head coach in 2017 after Cuonzo Martin left for Missouri. Jones had been an assistant under Martin for two seasons after spending four seasons as an assistant coach under Rick Pitino at Louisville.

Jones went 16-47 in two seasons in Berkeley, finishing 5-31 in Pac-12 play. The Golden Bears lost their first 15 conference games this season before winning three in a row to end the regular season, including a win over regular-season champion Washington.

“I am grateful to Wyking for his unflagging dedication and commitment to our program during his tenure at Cal, both as a head coach and as an assistant coach,” Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton said in a statement. “I have witnessed — and respected — his strong work ethic, commitment to the University’s mission and, perhaps most importantly, his extraordinary care and concern for our student-athletes.

“This was a difficult decision to make and comes after a deliberate and holistic review of our men’s basketball program. As always, we were guided by the best interests of our student-athletes, as well as the values and objectives of Cal Athletics and our University. As we quickly turn toward our search for a new head coach for our men’s basketball program, I am certain that we will attract a strong, talented and highly qualified pool of candidates. I am confident that we will find someone who will help lead us on a path to being exceptional.”

One name in consideration to replace Jones is former Cal star Jason Kidd, who played for the Golden Bears from 1992 to ’94 and led them to two NCAA tournaments and one Sweet 16 appearance. Kidd coached in the NBA for five seasons, getting fired by Milwaukee midway through the 2017-18 campaign.

A source told ESPN’s Marc J. Spears, however, that Kidd is still strongly interested in returning to the NBA as a head coach and may wait to see what opens up. Kidd will be among the candidates for the Lakers’ coaching job if Luke Walton is dismissed, league sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Oregonian was the first to report Jones’ ouster.

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