'That's Superman': Remembering stories about Nickerson track coach and father Trey Jones

Kyle Green remembers some of the most memorable memories with friend Trey Jones

Billy Watson
The Hutchinson News
The Nickerson Panthers boys basketball team takes its yearbook picture for the 1997-1998 school year.

OXFORD – Kyle Green remembered getting a steal at Hillsboro during a basketball game in the summer of 1995. It was during that game that he first saw Trey Jones, a 6-foot-3 athlete, perform.

Green, a then-transitioning Nickerson High School sophomore, hit an outlet pass to  Jones, who went up and dunked the ball. That was the first time Green had seen Jones dunk.

Chris Hewitt, current Fairfield athletic director and head girls basketball coach, had put the team together. 

"Chris and I were talking about this last week," Green said. "That boy's smile; it was electric."

Jones, the father of current Nickerson basketball star Ava Jones and husband to Amy Jones – named Nickerson's new assistant superintendent – died at the age of 42 after succumbing to his injuries following being hit by a vehicle on a sidewalk in downtown Louisville on Tuesday night, July 5. Ava and Amy Jones are now at Frazier Rehab Institute in Louisville and are expected to continue recovering and be moved to a location in Kansas soon.  

More:Kansas high school basketball player Ava Jones, mother moved to rehab center after car accident

Growing up and old memories

With social media not as big as it was in the '90s and not every fan having a cellphone out for every highlight, no one was there to capture the fury Jones had in those types of dunks. Both Jones and Green were three-year starters at Nickerson.

Green said growing up and playing with Jones was one of his best memories. 

"I told my wife the other day, I said, 'If Twitter and Hudl were around back in the day, there would've been Twitter videos of that fool,'" Green said.

Green does not like to weep. Instead, he likes to talk about old stories. Growing up, he said, the pair went to different K-8 schools in the Nickerson school district. Both were 1998 graduating seniors. The four years they got to play together, including both being three-year starters for Nickerson's boys basketball team, were the glory days for him. 

During their junior years in the 1996-1997 season, Green recalled a memory where Jones shattered a backboard of one of the side hoops on a tomahawk dunk prior to practice.

Memories are filled with plays Jones did, but it was the person and teammate Jones was that Green recollected the most.

"Just the freaking athleticism," Green said. "That dude was absolutely the best teammate I ever had, absolutely 100% without a doubt. Very competitive, very supportive, got on your butt when you needed it, but I did that same (thing). He was always fun to be around – an electric personality, didn't know a stranger. If you needed help, he would help you. He grew into a great young man and a good father."

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Green tried to get Jones to coach at Oxford. The only problem was Jones was a track coach through and through. This past track season, Jones had three Nickerson athletes qualify for the state meet in Wichita, one of them being his daughter Ava, who competed in three events and qualified for four.

Jones was credited for the building of the new track at Nickerson High School, which was recently completed. On a post on Facebook, Green said Jones left a legacy not only with the track but with the "countless people Trey impacted as a teacher, coach and a person."

"Trey was the man at Nickerson," Green said. "He was able to build relationships with kids and get them to perform at a high level. Doesn't surprise me. People gravitate towards him."

Nickerson's Trey Jones (55) shoots a free throw as teammate and close friend Kyle Green (5) watches from midcourt during the Reno County Classic at the Hutchinson Sports Arena during the 1996-1997 high school basketball season.

Another memory Green recalled was a senior year basketball game against Haven during the Reno County Classic at the Hutchinson Sports Arena. Down by one with three seconds to go, Nickerson had the ball and a chance to draw up a game-winning set. At the time, John Ontjes, the current Hutchinson Community College head women's basketball coach, was an assistant alongside then-head coach Dan Divine.

Adam Krol took the ball out with the set being a designed rub-screen play. Green caught the ball off the rub, took the ball up the court and hit Jones off a pin screen. Jones settled for about a 10-foot jump shot and hit the game-winner to beat Haven. 

"What was crazy about that is he wasn't known as a great, great shooter outside of 10 or 15 feet," Green said. "We get in the huddle, and coach draws that up. I look at Trey and say, 'You going to hit this or what?' He goes, 'Oh yeah, don't worry, dude. I got this,' and he did. He just always had that confidence."

Trey Jones will live on through his children

Green heard about Trey Jones' youngest son Creek having minor injuries and immediately thought about what might've and did happen for Creek to not be badly hurt from the crash.

"He saves Creek," Green said, "which I told my wife before that story even got out there with Creek. I told her if there's any way (Trey) could've shielded those kids, he would have because that's just who he is. That story didn't surprise me, and then the organ donation, I mean, that's just who he is to the T."

More:Louisville judge orders driver who struck Ava Jones' family to face murder, assault counts

Ava Jones, right, poses with her father, Trey Jones, left, during the Central Kansas League meet Thursday, May 12, 2022 in Pratt.

Trey Jones was pronounced dead Thursday, July 7, but was held on life support so his organs could be harvested. On the following Sunday, July 10, the University of Louisville Hospital conducted an honor walk so family and close friends could see Trey Jones for the final time before the operation. Hunter Jones, a track athlete at Pittsburg State University, was there with younger brother Creek, to see their father before he went into the elevator. Hunter was seen on a Facebook Live video of the honor walk comforting Creek. 

"I can't believe old boy's gone," Green said. "The hardest thing I watched was that (honor walk) when it was on Facebook Live. That was tough. It was hard. 

"What's crazy with Hunter, Trey's older boy, is his mannerisms and the way he carries himself, that's Trey at the same age. It's the same cat."

'That's Superman'

Jones' organ donation included at least five major organs, said Mary Alice Jones, Trey Jones' mother. Green talked about his organs being special if they went to someone else because of the person Trey Jones was. 

"It does my heart good to know that somebody or several somebodies – what'd they say, nine different people were recipients of his stuff – got his kidney or somebody's got his cornea. Someone's got Trey Jones' heart, which is probably the biggest heart in the country."

More:Nickerson's Ava Jones announces commitment to play college basketball for Iowa

Green posted on his social media a reaction to a story written by Jim Misunas at the Great Bend Tribune, who was one of the many media at the candlelight vigil at Nickerson High School. Green said it was one of the hardest things he has read about his old friend but was delighted to read about Jones' last act and potentially saving other patients because of his organ donation, that and saving his son's life. 

"That's Superman," Green said. "That's who Trey was. That pulled at my heart strings. Jim Misunas was the sports writer at The Hutchinson News when we were in high school. For him to write something like that, I'm sure that really ate him up too."

The Oxford basketball coach still uses some of their old plays from back in the day. Outside of basketball, Green has preached to his players about being selfless and trying to be a better person. He hopes his players and potentially other student athletes can see the example Jones was.

"You're talking about a guy that was one of the most selfless guys and individuals I've ever been around," Green said. "I constantly talk to my basketball guys about there being bigger things in this world and being selfless. I know Jonesy did that same thing. That is truly one of the most unselfish things as an individual you can do."

As of now, funeral arrangements for Jones are not yet known, according to  Hutchinson's Elliott Mortuary and Crematory website. To donate and help the Jones family, a GoFundMe account is available or funds can be sent directly to People's Bank and Trust in Nickerson and Hutchinson. 

Billy Watson is the sports reporter for The Hutchinson News and has been in Kansas since March 2021. To reach out about story ideas, you can send an email to wwatson@gannett.com or send a direct message on Twitter @hutchsports or @billywatson4l.