Back in the ol’ days, Parochial League basketball was as good as there was in our town.
And among the best players, there was Billy Jones. St. John the Evangelist had the most successful program in the league. And while the school’s Hall of Fame duo of coach Bob Felasco and scoring machine Bobby Kallfelz deserved accolades, point guard Billy Jones was a pivotal player for Evangelist in the late 1950s.
These days, the former backcourt star is Rev. William Jones, Parochial Vicar at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Fr. Jones became an ordained priest in 1967, leaving those who consider him to be among the best to ever play in the Parochial League wondering how good might he have been at the collegiate level. We’ll never know. Even though DePaul’s legendary Ray Meyer was among college coaches courting Jones, he chose another path — that of a self-discipline found in the clergy. Instead of playing for the Blue Demons, he entered the seminary and began his studies in Canada.
Billy Jones had been a fine athlete before going to St. John the Evangelist. He led St. Brigid’s grammar school team and starred for the state Biddy Tournament champs reaching the national semi-finals (1954) and title game (’55).
Billy was an All-Parochial League performer in basketball, baseball and golf, and has retained an active love for the links. He played on St. John’s teams that won the 1957 Parochial playoffs as well as the ’58 regular season and playoffs.
The ’59 Evangelist graduate was named to the school’s top 20 players among the Parochial League’s all-time top 200. Jones was the first Parochial Leaguer named the Italian American Athletic Club’s (IAAC) outstanding scholastic student-athlete.
While studying in Canada, an affiliation with University of Waterloo allowed him to play basketball. Such a good player was Billy Jones that he rewrote Canadian record books and, in 1963, had his No. 22 retired.
His playing days ended when he was transferred across the border to a seminary at St. Bonaventure.
Ever the self-effacing team player, Billy Jones richly deserves this recognition as a member of the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2014.