2018-2019 DeMatha Varsity Basketball and Where They Are Now


2018-2019 DeMatha Varsity Basketball Team

Jacques Kearns, Staff Writer

New players, new coaches, new fans; a lot has changed for DeMatha basketball since the 2018-2019 season. That squad started the season ranked number 3 in the nation, and the team finished with a 33-5 record and won the MD Private School Championship. With the start of the NCAA tournament recently, it’s a good time to look and see where the journeys of these young men have gone after four years.

The head coach at the time was Mike Jones, who graduated from DeMatha in 1991. Jones, previously an assistant coach under Hall of Fame coach Morgan Wootten, took the job in 2002 when Wooten retired after 46 seasons. Jones took the job with no prior head coaching experience and coached for the program for 19 seasons.

In 2021, Coach Jones took a coaching job at Virginia Tech, leaving a great legacy at DeMatha. Jones said, “That team in ’18-’19 was second in a 3-year span where we won 30 games each season.” He also mentioned 33 wins in a season is tied for the 3rd most in DeMatha history.

There were several key players from that team who are still playing today. Paul Smith was a junior at the time. After DeMatha, Paul went to play for Eastern Tennessee State University. After one year at ETSU, Smith transferred to Pensacola State College in Florida. After his sophomore year at PSC, he transferred to Mississippi College. Randy Bolton, head coach for the program, said Paul is a presence in the post and has excellent touch with either hand that allows for him to finish in traffic.

One of the few freshmen on the team, Jerell Roberson, is now a freshman in college playing for James Madison University in Virginia. He led DeMatha to a 2020 WCAC Championship and an undefeated season in 2021. Against Valley Forge this year, he put up season highs in both points and rebounds with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Anthony Perry was a junior on the team. He now plays basketball for Prince George’s Community College. PGCC was just named MD Juco Conference Champions, with Perry being a big reason for that. Perry averaged 12.9 points per game this year and 10.1 points his freshman year. He’s been a key factor for the program the last two years and has an exciting future ahead of him.

Elijah Hawkins and Steve Settle III combined for 25 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds in an unfortunate loss to number 1 seed Kansas in the NCAA tournament this year. Howard hadn’t played in the tournament since 1992. Thanks to Hawkins, Settle, and the rest of the Bison, including head coach Kenny Blakeney who graduated from DeMatha in 1990, the 31-year streak was broken on March 11 when the Bison won the MEAC championship and automatically clinched a spot in the big tournament. This year as a sophomore, Hawkins averaged 12.9 points per game and 6 assists per game. Junior forward Settle averaged 11 points this season.

After the 2018-19 season, KJ Holton decided to play college basketball for Dickinson College. After averaging 9.2 points for Dickinson, Holton decided to transfer to Stevenson University for his next 3 years of college. Holton has been an important member for the team ever since he first put on the white and green jersey his sophomore year. This year as a senior for the team he averaged 10.3 points per game and 2.9 assists per game. He will be graduating from Stevenson University in the spring

Tyrell Ward graduated from DeMatha in 2022 as the 37th ranked player in the Class of 22 on ESPN’s list of the top 100 seniors in the country. During the 2018-2019 season, Ward was a freshman on the team. Now a freshman at LSU, Ward averaged 3.7 points per game and put up a career high 15 points against Texas A&M on February 11. Hopefully one day we can see Ward in the NBA playing with other DeMatha alumni from this team.

Josh Wallace was an All-WCAC honorable mention following the 2018-2019 season for the Stags. Wallace was a two-sport athlete and decided to take a different path after graduating from DeMatha in 2019. Wallace chose to play football at the University of Massachusetts. He is a two-time team captain for the Minutemen and started every game at cornerback for them this season. Wallace was part of the Phil Steele Preseason All-Independent Second Team. This year he had 2 interceptions as well as 41 total tackles and 4 tackles for loss. 

Justin Moore was ranked number 54 in the ESPN top 100 for the class of 2019. When asked who the leaders of that 2018-19 team were, the first name that came to Coach Mike Jones’s mind was Justin Moore. A lot of top schools wanted the Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year, but Moore decided to spend his next 4 years at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. Moore is averaging 13.5 points in his senior year for Villanova. Last year, Justin helped lead his team to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament, though an injury suffered in the Wildcats’ Elite Eight victory prevented him from playing in the semifinals and cost him the first 20 games of this past season. He is hoping to be picked in the upcoming 2023 NBA draft.

Number 8 seed Maryland barely edged out a win against number 9 seed West Virginia in the very first March Madness game of 2023. Senior guard Jahmir Young had 10 points in the victory. Young averaged 15.9 points per game as well as 3.1 assists per game this season and was named to the 2023 All-Big Ten Second Team. Young was another name Coach Jones associated with leadership on the 2018-19 team. After graduating from DeMatha, Young went to play basketball at the University of Charlotte, where he was a three-year starter and averaged double digit points each year he was there. After his junior year, Young decided to transfer to the University of Maryland where he’s had a phenomenal season so far and a future in the NBA is a possibility.

All-WCAC first team forward Earl Timberlake was a junior on the team. After a successful high school career, Timberlake decided to go to the University of Miami. Timberlake had an impressive freshman year averaging 9.3 points and 5 rebounds per game. Timberlake decided to transfer to the University of Memphis for his sophomore year where he participated in last year’s NCAA tournament. They were able to upset number 8 seeded Boise St. in the first round but eventually fell to number 1 seed Gonzaga. After his sophomore year, Timberlake transferred to Bryant University in Rhode Island. This season Timberlake averaged 13.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.

Hunter Dickinson has played an extremely important role for Michigan basketball ever since he was a freshman there. Coach Jones said he was also one of the leaders for that 2018-2019 DeMatha squad. In his senior year of high school, Dickinson was ranked 41st in the nation and won Maryland Gatorade Player of The Year. He was the WCAC Player of the Year in 2020 and he’s a three-time All-WCAC selection. His freshman year of college at the University of Michigan he averaged 14.1 points and 7.4 rebounds a game. He won Big Ten Freshman of the Year over big names like Keegan Murray, Jaden Ivey, and Zach Edey. This year he averaged 18.5 points and 9 rebounds per game. He led his team to two straight NCAA tournaments in 2021 and 2022, both times making it past the round of 32. Dickinson has a bright future ahead of him and hopes to play in the NBA.

When Coach Mike Jones was asked how he feels when he sees his boys succeeding at the next level, he said, “I am so proud of all of our former players. This time of year when March Madness takes up so much attention and the NBA season starts to get really intense, it is the best time for me. We get to see many former Stags perform on the biggest stages. It reminds me of how blessed I was to be able to coach at DeMatha.”