James Needles

James Needles (1900-1969)

Teams coached: San Francisco Dons, Loyola Marymount Lions
San Francisco record: 124-67 (.649)
Loyola Marymount record: 48-39 (.552)
Overall record: 172-106 (.619)

Career Accomplishments:

  • NCAA National Championships:  0
  • NCAA Tournament Appearances:  0
  • NIT Championships:  0
  • NIT Appearances:  0

Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

1942-1944 San Francisco
1936-1940 Loyola Marymount
1923-1931 San Francisco

James Needles Facts

  • James “Jimmy” R. Needles
  • Born March 3, 1900
  • Died July 22, 1969
  • Hometown: Tacoma, Washington
  • Alma Mater: University of San Francisco (BA, 1924)
  • The WA-native attended St. Ignatius College (now University of San Francisco); played basketball at the school and in 1923-24 was player-coach
    • Named full-time head coach after graduation, leading the team through the 1930-31 season
    • During this time, Needles also coached the Ignatius/USF football team and won two league championships
  •  Illness forced Needles to resign from both roles in 1931, though he would soon begin coaching in the AAU
    • After leading the Universal Pictures team to an AAU championship final, Needles was selected to be the head coach of the first-ever United States Olympic basketball team; won gold in the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics
  • Hired in 1936 to be the head coach at Loyola University in Los Angeles (now known as Loyola Marymount)
    • Went 48-39 in four seasons as the Lions’ head coach, at a time when the NCAAT and NIT were just starting
  • Returned to USF in 1941 to be the athletic director, then became the head coach again in 1942
    • In ten total seasons as the Dons’ head coach, Needles was 124-67 overall
    • As AD, he would go on to hire USF head coaches Pete Newell (in 1946) and Phil Woolpert (in 1950), both of whom had played for Needles when he was coaching at Loyola; left his role as AD in 1954 to work in public relations
    • Inducted into the USF Athletics Hall of Fame in 1969
  • Needles passed away at the age of 69 at his home in San Francisco, after several years of poor health

James Needles Coaching Tree

  • Scotty McDonald (Loyola Marymount)
  • Pete Newell (California, Michigan State, San Francisco)
  • Phil Woolpert (San Diego, San Francisco)