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Iowa hoops recruit Ava Jones, family celebrate life of late father

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Nickerson's Ava Jones hugs her father, Trey Jones, after winning the Class 4A girls high jump at the Kansas state high school track and field championships on May 28, 2021 in Wichita. (Billy Watson/The Hutchinson News via USA TODAY NETWORK)

Family, friends and loved ones gathered Saturday morning at Hutch First Nazarene Church in Hutchinson, Kan. to pay tribute to Trey Jones and offer words of encouragement to his daughter, Ava Jones, and her family.

More than two months removed from a crash in Louisville, Ky. that cost him his life, Trey Jones was memorialized during a service that included special tributes from friends and loved ones to comfort the family as they said goodbye. He was 42 years old.

On July 5, the family was in Louisville for Ava Jones’ AAU basketball tournament when police say a driver hit them with his car while under the influence of hydrocodone. Trey Jones died days later in a Kentucky hospital, and the three other family members involved in the accident survived. Creek Jones (Trey’s youngest son) suffered a few minor cuts and scrapes but was mostly fine, while Amy Jones (Trey’s wife) and Ava Jones spent weeks recovering at Frazier Rehabilitation Institute in Louisville before returning to their home in Nickerson, Kan. on Aug. 18.

Ava Jones is a top 100 recruit in the Class of 2023, according to ESPN, and is committed to the University of Iowa. Previously committed to Arizona State, she reopened her recruitment after a coaching change within the Sun Devils program. The family has confirmed that Iowa will honor Jones’ scholarship regardless of the circumstances.

A 6-foot-2 wing, Jones is the reigning Class 3A girls player of the year in Kansas. She is coming off a 2021-22 campaign in which she averaged 20.8 points and 15.4 rebounds per game at Nickerson, leading the Panthers to a fourth-place finish in 3A. Jones was also named the most valuable player in the Central Kansas League at the end of the season.

Outside of basketball,  Jones has also made a name for herself on the volleyball court and on the track. She was among the leaders in kills for the Nickerson volleyball team last season, and she won the 4A girls high jump two years ago as a sophomore. Jones qualified for four events at the state track meet last year, placing in the top three in two events.

As head coach of Nickerson’s track and field team, Trey Jones was remembered fondly during his memorial service for the kindness he showed to the players he coached.

“Trey is willing to jump in and do anything for anybody and had a desire to make us all better,” Nickerson High School Principal Rick Blosser said. “He loved teaching, he loved coaching and he loved the Nickerson Panthers. Rest in peace Coacher.”

In an interview last month with KAKE News, Amy Jones said the realization of being back home without her husband would likely set in after the service. She also thanked Kansans and other people across the country for the support her family had received.

Those sentiments of gratitude were echoed during the service on behalf of the family, with church leadership acknowledging first responders, law enforcement, doctors, nurses, physical therapists and many others who have made a difference in aiding the recovery of the Jones family.

“Trey was doing what he loved when he died,” Hutch First Lead Pastor Kent Pederson said. “Traveling with his family and watching one of his kids compete.”

Brad Fox, who was close friends with Trey Jones, said he was nearly moved to tears when thinking about the impact he left on his life, and Fox was sympathetic to the family during their time of grief.

“We will cherish every adventure we had with Trey,” Fox said, “and look forward to moments still to come with Amy, Creek, Hunter and Ava.”

Trey Jones’ celebration of life included a number of personal memories, and it touched on a number of achievements throughout his personal life.

All speakers were in agreement that his family was his greatest achievement.

“That was always one of Trey’s greatest joys was seeing his children succeed more than he did,” said Crag Honas, Trey’s brother-in-law.

Trent Singer is the High School Editor at Just Women’s Sports. Follow him on Twitter @trentsinger.