June 18, 2009
From American Athletic Communications
WASHINGTON - American Head Men's Basketball Coach Jeff Jones began his second tour of the Persian Gulf with the United Service Organizations on Monday, this time as a member of "Operation Hoop Talk: Talking Hoops with the Troops," a nine-day goodwill initiative.
Joining Jones on this year's trip are current coaches Barry Rohrssen (Manhattan), Gary Stewart (UC Davis) and Jerry Wainwright (DePaul), former coaches Reggie Minton (Air Force), Dave Odom (South Carolina) and Dennis Wolf (Boston University), CBS college basketball analyst and former Virginia Head Coach Pete Gillen and executive director of the Troops First Foundation, Rick Kell.
Prior to leaving for the Middle East the group went to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., to visit with soldiers wounded in combat. From there the group traveled to Afghanistan via Kuwait to meet soldiers serving on the front line. While in Afghanistan the members of "Operation Hoop Talk" will help boost moral and pass along their vast basketball knowledge.
"I feel very fortunate to have another opportunity to travel to the Middle East and meet with the men and women of our armed forces," Jones commented. "My involvement last year in `Operation Hardwood' gave me a new appreciation for our soldiers and what they do everyday. To be able to go overseas and bring a small sense of home to these extraordinary citizens is a humbling but fulfilling act."
Last year Jones participated in the USO's fifth installment of "Operation Hardwood: Hoops with the Troops," which included a week-long basketball tournament with some of the best military players stationed overseas.
Modeled after the hugely popular Operation Links, Gridiron and Hardwood series', "Operation Hoop Talk" continues the USO's commitment to bringing top sports figures and sports-related events to troops stationed overseas.