INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Before Norfolk State's Robert Jones takes the floor for his first NCAA Tournament game as a head coach Thursday, he takes time for us.
In his last local TV interview before the Big Dance, Jones chats 1-on-1 via Zoom with News 3 Sports Director Adam Winkler. The interview begins with who is missing this March Madness.
"I'm wishing my Mom was here to see this," Jones admitted. "She saw the beginning of the journey - but, unfortunately passed away early. For her to see it, all the struggles we went through - to now reach the pinnacle of your profession in a sense."
And this pinnacle, the NCAA Tournament - college basketball's biggest stage, seems like a whole different stratosphere compared to where Jones was before arriving at Norfolk State as an assistant in 2007. He was coaching high school ball after serving as an assistant at the NCAA Division III level.
"Being in a gym at St. Mary's that held 300 people to now coaching in front of three million or ten million - I don't know how many people are going to watching tomorrow, I just know a lot of people are going to watch tomorrow," Jones said. "That's just amazing right there."
But is his amazing journey ready for its next stop?
Monday, college basketball insider Jeff Goodman reports Jones, a native of Queens, New York, has interviewed for the head coaching vacancy at Fordham University - a school located in the Bronx.
"No, we didn't talk about it," Jones admitted when asked if he addressed the report with his team. "There's nothing to talk about except Appalachian State, honestly, right now. Anything else that happens with that, we'll talk about it at a later date. Right now, everybody is locked on Appalachian State - me, too. I don't really care about them or anybody else that's trying to get my attention. People are, of course, reaching out and things like that, but I don't care - I'm Norfolk State's head coach and we're trying to win a game."
That game is set for Thursday at 8:40 p.m. vs. Appalachian State at Indiana University's Assembly Hall.
News 3 will have live, pregame coverage leading up to tip-off.