One year ago, Ultimate Hoops Regional Manager Donald Dangmuk and the Arizona Ultimate Hoops region produced a video on the relationship between Tyrone Jones and John McFall Jr. Jones is a Ultimate Hoops basketball trainer at Life Time Athletic in Scottsdale, Az. and McFall Jr.. is one of his trainees.
What makes McFall Jr. unique from Jones' other trainees is McFall Jr. has been battling leukemia.
As a follow-up to the original video story. Jones points out having leukemia is not the only thing that sets McFall Jr. apart from everyone else he trains.
"[John’s] a little spark plug. A very competitive kid," Jones said. "He hated to lose. He liked to finish first in all the drills. For a little kid he had a really nice jump shot, and nice form which is uncommon for a kid that was in first grade at the time."
McFall Jr. started working with Jones in early 2015, when he was 6-years-old. He has been his most consistent client since Jones began working for Ultimate Hoops. Jones wasn't aware of McFall Jr.'s condition when they first started training. After he missed a few sessions, McFall Jr.'s parents informed Jones of his condition.
"I was very flexible with them, like hey, whatever works out best for Johnny and basketball training I most definitely will support,” Jones said.
Being flexible meant understanding that McFall Jr. wasn't going to be able to consistently show up for training sessions. It also inspired Jones to change his drills.
“He never liked for me to change it up but I would find creative ways of playing H.O.R.S.E. or playing shoot-around games so he didn’t realize we were doing something different."
Given McFall Jr.'s competitiveness, Jones knew he wouldn't want to slow it down. Coaching and training are two things that have come naturally for Jones. He started playing basketball at the age of 5 when he was growing up in Memphis. He played a mix of organized basketball and pick-up ball in his neighborhood. All of this experience got him a scholarship to play at Montreat College in North Carolina. After two years there, he played his final two years at Park University in Missouri.
Despite having chances to play professionally overseas, Jones stayed at Park and became a graduate assistant coach for two more years. After, he moved to Arizona and did player development for the ABA's Arizona Scorpions. He continued to do private training before coaching high school ball for three years.
"I always had a passion for coaching," said Jones. "I have a younger brother, so I was always sort of his coach growing up."
Passion and experience has made the relationship between Jones and McFall Jr. come naturally. Jones has been the captain on almost every team he played on. He has years of experience coaching and training. He also leads by example, as he plays for "Str8 Ballin" in the Ultimate Hoops Scottsdale Draft League where he averages 24.4 points per game and 15 rebounds per game.
McFall Jr.'s leukemia has been in remission over the past six months. This has allowed him to attend his training sessions more frequently, elevating his game, and specifically his jump shot.
“For his age, he definitely has the best jump shot of the group of kids I train,” Jones said.
McFall Jr. has transitioned from a 7-foot to 10-foot hoop and often helps Jones' new clients when they are struggling with a difficult drill. Recently, McFall Jr.'s dad shared results from his local YMCA team.
"His team only scored 26 points for the entire game." Jones said, "[John] scored 18 of them."