A tipsy Taye Diggs, who plays the role of Roland in “The Wood,” stumbles into a store, approaches the counter and asks “Yo, where da aspirin at, man?” in a scene that begins nearly 23 minutes into the 1999 classic. That’s when the most interesting man in college basketball looks at his co-worker, turns toward Diggs and tells the wobbly man that the “aspirin in the third aisle, man.”
It’s a simple line, but it’s also proof that few coaches in the game can match California assistant Wyking Jones’ résumé.
How many college basketball coaches have an IMDB page?
Jones, who won a national title as an assistant at Louisville in 2013, has appeared in multiple mainstream movies, including “The Wood,” “Dope,” “Brown Sugar” and “Benchwarmers.” And he was the co-executive producer of a movie called “Studio” in 2007.
"The Wood" was actually written by his childhood friend, Rick Famuyiwa, who based the film off his upbringing in Inglewood, California, with Jones and another friend, Geoffrey Blackshire. Blackshire and Jones appear in the film. The character Slim, based off Jones, is occasionally called Lavinio in the film. Lavinio is Jones' middle name. And like Slim, Jones also had a Jheri curl.
“Yeah, I did,” said Jones, laughing. “It was the 1980s in Inglewood. Everyone did.”
Famuyiwa also wrote and directed "Brown Sugar" and "Dope," two other films on Jones' personal acting reel.
“Just growing up, I was a big-time movie buff,” Jones told ESPN.com. “Pretty much, I’d go see one to two movies per week.”
During his senior year at Loyola Marymount, Jones took an acting class just to fulfill credit requirements.
“It was fun,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I was good at it.”
A meeting with a sports agent who had Hollywood ties helped him make some cash as an actor whenever he came home after playing overseas. He also signed up with Central Casting, a group that helps actors find minor roles in film and TV, in Los Angeles.
“They’d say, ‘We need tall guys for an episode of ‘Arliss,’” he recalled.
To date, he’s appeared in more than 25 commercials. And he showed up in “National Security,” which features comedian Martin Lawrence.
An episode of “Dharma and Greg” required a body double for Dennis Rodman. The show called Jones, who sported temporary tattoos.
Jones hasn’t earned any starring roles, but all of this on-screen action is only an addendum to his career.
He scored 1,076 points during a four-year stint at Loyola Marymount in the early 1990s. His overseas pro career took him to Europe and Japan. After that, he played a pivotal role in Nike’s grassroots program for a stretch in the mid-2000s. He worked with AAU squads throughout the country, organized tournaments and navigated an AAU landscape that’s not easy to manage.
He was then a coach at New Mexico before helping Louisville win a national title as an assistant in 2013.
Rick Pitino praised Jones when he hired him in 2011.
“Basically, what I did was, I told my son, ‘Look, go out ...,’ I gave him the criteria of what I wanted, ‘Talk to everybody in the business and give me the five best names for this criteria,’” Pitino told reporters then. “And he did that and the one person that stood out more than anyone thus far, and there were a lot of good candidates, was Wyking Jones.”
He’s known as a crucial recruiter with a high IQ and the ability to expand his pupils’ skill sets.
Jones will now help Cuonzo Martin’s stacked Cal squad after making the move to Berkeley, California, in April. He didn’t need much time to make an impression on his new team.
“He demands the best out of us every time we step on the court,” said Jordan Mathews per the official Cal Twitter feed. “He has been great.”
He’s a California native who will help Martin attract some of the top players in the region. He’ll also continue to help big men develop and grow. This season, he’ll help freshman center Ivan Rabb, No. 8 in the 2015 class per RecruitingNation. If Rabb reaches his potential, he could lead Cal on a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
“You want to get a guy who understands the value of family, team, winning,” Martin told reporters after adding Jones to his staff. “Just as important and probably most important is work with big guys and their development. That’s very important for our guys. I wanted to hire a guy who could take our big guys to another level.”
When Jones is not training the Golden Bears, he might make time to swat more shots and challenge innocent onlookers in another McDonald’s commercial.
“Next! You with the Snack Wrap. You want some?” That’s how Jones ends the scene in the 2007 fast-food advertisement.
Now he’s just six hours, via Interstate 5, from Hollywood.
Jones said that he has written a few screenplays. One, fittingly, is about basketball and the other is a coming-of-age tale.
He said he’d love to see both on the big screen one day.
“That,” Jones said, “would be my dream.”
You can find a variety of coaches with interesting backgrounds and side gigs. Tom Izzo plays the accordion. John Calipari knows Drake. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski recently admitted that “I really like Meek Mill,” although he made that comment prior to Drake’s verbal beatdown of the Philly rapper.
But when you ask Jones about his postgame plans, he might tell you, “I’m busy practicing my lines because I’m in movies” while wearing his 2013 national championship ring.
Not sure how you top that.
Oh, that’s right. You can’t.