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The DeMatha Stagline

The DeMatha Stagline

DeMatha names basketball court in honor of former coach

DeMatha officially named its basketball court in honor of former coach Mike Jones on Dec. 15. Jones, who coached the Stags from 2002-21, led his alma mater to eight conference championships and mentored several NBA players.

In 2000, former DeMatha basketball coach Morgan Wootten became the first exclusively high school coach to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Two years later he handed the reins over to an assistant, 1991 DeMatha graduate Mike Jones.

It was Jones’ first time as a varsity head basketball coach. Talk about a nearly impossible act to follow. 

“Mike somehow managed to succeed a legend and carve out his own legendary career,” DeMatha Principal Dr. Dan McMahon said. 

Jones was honored by the school Dec. 15 when the floor in the Lt. (SEAL) Brendan Looney ’99 Convocation Center was dedicated as Michael K. Jones ’91 Court. The honor was first announced at an August ceremony attended by dozens of former players, managers, coaches, family and friends. 

It’s fitting that the court resides in Morgan and Kathy Wootten gymnasium. Morgan, who died in 2020, coached the Stags for 46 years (1956-2002) and posted a record of 1,274-192 (.869 winning percentage). He guided DeMatha to 33 conference championships and five national crowns.

“The one thing that will never, ever be able to be duplicated is the bar that coach Wootten set for us,” Jones told WUSA9’s Darren Haynes. “Our willingness to chase it, knowing that we’d never get it, but to chase it, that gave us all the motivation that we’d ever need.” 

Mike Jones, his wife Stayce and Father James Day at the dedication of the DeMatha basketball court in his name.

Jones, who left DeMatha in 2021 to become associate head coach at Virginia Tech, is in his first year as an assistant coach at the University of Maryland. Jahmir Young, one of his former Stags, is the Terrapins’ starting point guard.

Jerami Grant, a 2012 DeMatha graduate and star for the Portland Trailblazers, attended the August announcement. He committed to donating $250,000 across five years to keep the Stags’ basketball program among the nation’s elite. He still speaks highly of his prep coach.

“He was always here for us,” Grant said. “He mentored us and helped us to grow into the men we are today. So, it means a lot to see him be honored in this way.”

Jones, who joined Wootten’s staff as an assistant coach in 1998, succeeded his mentor as interim head coach just before the start of the 2002-03 season. He went on to lead DeMatha to eight Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championships, seven No. 1 final rankings and a 2006 national title.

After an initial 15-17 season, the Stags improved to 19-11. By year three they were 29-2, and The Washington Post named Jones Coach of the Year. He produced his highest winning percentage (.971) in 2005-06 by leading DeMatha to a record of 34-1. Between 2004 and 2007, the Stags were 95-9 (.913) and won three straight WCAC titles. They three-peated again in 2008-11. 

Beyond the X’s and O’s 

In addition to his coaching duties, Jones also served as a staff member and teacher.

“Mike Jones’ gifts to DeMatha as a student-athlete, counselor, admissions director, teacher and coach are extraordinary,” DeMatha President Father James Day said. “And in those roles, he changed the trajectory of the lives of countless people on the court and in the classroom.” 

Jones was well aware that coaching was just one part of his job. 

“The leadership of this school has always talked about building and creating not just the athlete, but the young man,” he said. “And I know that every single day, especially when we lost, I was able to look at that and remind myself what the ultimate goal actually was.”

In addition to Jerami Grant, Jones coached several other NBA players at DeMatha, including Jerian Grant, Quinn Cook, Victor Oladipo, Markelle Fultz, Nate Darling and Jordan Hawkins. 

Fultz was the top overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. One of his teammates, Chase Young, was the No. 2 pick of the 2020 NFL Draft and plays for the San Francisco 49ers. Cook won NBA titles with the Golden State Warriors (2018) and Los Angeles Lakers (2020).

Prior to graduating from DeMatha in 2012, James Robinson helped lead the Stags to three WCAC championships and two Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament titles. He became a four-year starter at Pittsburgh and played professionally in Europe for six seasons. 

Robinson, now an assistant coach at Delaware, spoke to Jones from the podium during the August gathering.

“Teaching us through the game of basketball, you taught us the core values of life,” he said. “And that goes far beyond anything we did in practice, games or winning championships. The life values that you instilled in us, we will carry forever.” 

Hunter Dickinson, who played for the Stags from 2016-20 and is now a star at Kansas, credits Jones for much of his development.

“He took me as a young boy coming into ninth grade and I came out, I feel like, as a young man very prepared not just for basketball but for life,” Dickinson said. “I’m very thankful for him. He’s really done a lot for me.”

Jones finished his Stags tenure with 511 career victories. One day, he will likely be a college head coach. 

“It is such an honor to stand here today and have this happen, but ultimately the we in me is happy that I’m able to share this with you all,” the 2017 DeMatha Hall of Fame inductee said. “Thank you all so much.”

Chris McManes is the Communications Manager at DeMatha.

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