NORFOLK, Va. – Thursday, Old Dominion men’s basketball coach Jeff Jones will attempt to win a trophy: the Conference USA championship. Should his Monarchs win at Texas-San Antonio, ODU will capture the C-USA regular season title – the program’s first league championship since 2010.
But that won’t be the only hardware with which Jones is associated this week. He can now say he mentored an Academy Award winner.
Charlie Wachtel, who worked as a student manager on Jones’ staff at American University in 2006, won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2019 Academy Awards. With writing partner David Rabinowitz, along with Spike Lee and Kevin Willmott, the screenplay BlacKkKlansman added to its honors of British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA)award for Best Adapted Screenplay and a nomination by the Writers Guild Association for Best Adapted Screenplay.
“It was great to hear that,” Jeff Jones said Tuesday. “I didn’t know. [Special Assistant to the head coach] Kieran (Donohue) told me yesterday. That was pretty cool. The guys refer to him as ‘Chuck’. We all knew him when he was a freshman in college. That was pretty neat to hear that.”
Jones had a 211-and-183 record in 13 seasons (2000-2013) at American. Four of Jones’ last six teams at AU won 20 or more games – in addition to two Patriot League championships.
According to American University, when Wachtel graduated in 2008, he moved to Los Angeles with no job lined up. “I thought I’d have to be a barista,” he joked. Instead, he landed a gig as an unpaid intern at Warner Bros, and later took a position as an assistant at a talent agency.