In a first-ever event for RIT Men’s Athletics, the jersey No. 33 worn by basketball legend Craig Jones has been retired.
Jones’ jersey was retired Jan. 28 in a special ceremony in Clark Gym just before tipoff in a crucial Liberty League contest against Vassar College.
“Craig was not only an outstanding performer, but he was what RIT Athletics stands for: Excellence, integrity, sportsmanship and humility,” said RIT Executive Director of Athletics Lou Spiotti Jr. “This ceremony is a fitting capstone to a stellar career and yet another way for us to call attention to our history of athletic excellence.”
Jones, inducted into the RIT Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003, enjoyed a brilliant career for the Tigers. He was NCAA Division III Player of the Year in 1996 and was a three-time National Association of Basketball Coaches All-American, earning first team honors in 1995-96 and 1996-97.
Named RIT’s Senior Athlete of the Year in 1997, Jones won numerous awards from various national publications, associations and organizations. In 2001-02, he was inducted into the JP Morgan Chase Tournament Hall of Fame and five years later, was also named to the JP Morgan Chase Tournament 40th Anniversary Team.
“Out of all the accolades that I have received, (a jersey retirement) is by far the most prestigious,” said Jones, who lives in Rochester. “To know your university thinks that much of you to do so and to be the first in the modern era is a great honor for not only myself, but our entire team.”
Jones, who earned his bachelor’s degree in social work from the university in 1998, is RIT’s all-time leader with 1,984 career points (18.7 average), and is also the university’s record holder with 1,085 rebounds. In 1995-96, Jones led all of Division III, averaging 14.0 boards per game and scored 24.2 points per game. During his four-year tenure (1993-97), RIT went 84-22 and made three NCAA playoff appearances, advancing to the round of 16 his senior year.
“Craig is the most decorated basketball player in RIT basketball history to wear the uniform,” said RIT men’s basketball head coach Bob McVean, now in his 34th season at the university. “He had a great work ethic, and while not flashy, did all of the little things that allowed us to enjoy our best four-year stretch as a team in program history.”
The current Tigers are in the mix for a Liberty League postseason berth and are looking to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2008-09 season. Junior guard A.J. Horde, a business major from Oak Park, Mich., became the 21st player in program history to surpass 1,000 career points earlier in the season and could threaten Jones’ career scoring mark. McVean is also closing in on 500 wins at the university and nearing 600 overall.