Louisville head coach Jeff Walz steps up for Iowa women’s basketball recruit Ava Jones, family after crash

After the Iowa women’s basketball recruit and her family were hit by a car in Louisville in July 2022, Walz made sure they had everything they needed.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Louisville head coach Jeff Walz speaks to the media during the NCAA Elite Eight press conferences at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, WA, on Sat., March 25, 2023.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

SEATTLE — Louisville women’s basketball head coach Jeff Walz didn’t know Iowa women’s basketball recruit Ava Jones before her accident in Louisville, Kentucky, last summer.

Jones and her family were hit by a car while attending an AAU basketball tournament in downtown Louisville on July 5, 2022 — just two days after she committed to the Hawkeyes.

“It was just such a terrible situation that took place in Louisville during the big basketball weekend,” Walz said on Saturday ahead of Louisville’s matchup with Iowa in the Elite Eight. “When we heard it and saw what took place, I reached out to [Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder] and just asked if there’s anything that we can do at all. She said, ‘I’ll figure some things out,’  because they were still trying — you know, it was so new, it just happened, trying to figure out what’s going on, what’s going to happen.”

Jones sustained a traumatic brain injury, torn ligaments in both of her knees, and a shoulder injury. Her mother, Amy Jones, had a brain injury and 21 broken bones, and her father, Trey Jones, died because of his injuries. 

Jones and her mother spent over a month in a Louisville hospital recovering from their injuries with family at their side.

And Walz was there to help with whatever the family needed.

“I reached out to Jeff, and Jeff provided a car for the family to use at no expense, and it was immediate,” Bluder said. “It was like not even a thought. It was something he wanted to do for that family. So I just think he’s a really good guy. That speaks volumes about a person when they’re helping you when you’re in need like that.”

Walz said the car, which Jones’ grandmother needed, was courtesy of one of Louisville’s boosters, who didn’t bat an eye before lending a hand.

“And it took one phone call to one of our boosters and it was, like, ‘It’s a done deal. Do not worry about it.’” Walz said. “They have a car dealership and within 10 minutes they had her a car. It’s what our basketball community’s all about. Sure, we’re all trying to beat each other and you’re trying to advance, you’re trying to win, but at the end of the day it’s just about being a good person and doing what’s right.”

Jones, who was the No. 83 recruit in the Class of 2023, may not be able to play basketball again after her injuries, Bluder said in October. Bluder said Jones tore all four major ligaments in both of her knees when she was hit by the car.

But the Hawkeyes will honor her scholarship throughout her four years at Iowa — even if she never takes a shot on the court.

“She committed to us, and just because she had something bad happen to her doesn’t mean that we turn our back on her,” Bluder said, according to The Cedar Rapids Gazette. “We’ll be there for her and her family as much as we can.”

Jones is working toward recovery, as she had surgery on both of her knees and shoulder in early 2023. And she’s intent on playing basketball for the Hawkeyes.

“Where I’m at right now, I can see myself in the future getting better, getting back to it and working out again,” Jones told Just Women’s Sports in November. “I’m excited for that, to get back to it.”