DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) coach Mike Jones gets his 300th win at the Hoophall Classic over MLK weekend, knocking off a FAB 50-ranked team in the process. Not only did Jones reach a milestone win, his team broke into this week’s FAB 50 a day after he was announced as coach of the 2014 USA Junior National Select Team.
Mike Jones is the high school basketball equivalent of Gene Bartow on the college level. In the fall of 1975, Bartow replaced the legendary John Wooden at UCLA. He never really could replace him and quite frankly the late Wooden still casts a large shadow in Westwood.
In the fall of 2002, Jones had to replace Morgan Wootten, his former high school coach at DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) and he wasn’t just replacing any coach. Aside from perhaps Bob Hurley Sr. of St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.), Wootten is arguably the most recognizable and honored coach in high school basketball history. When he stepped down, he was already in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, compiled a 1,274-192 career mark and led his storied program to five mythical national and 33 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference titles.
Now Jones isn’t on track for those types of accomplishments (who is?), but he’s kept the Stags program on a competitive scale with some of the best programs nationally. On Sunday, in his 11th season as head coach, Jones recorded his 300th coaching victory with a 73-45 over St. Joseph (Metuchen, N.J.) in Springfield, Mass.
St. Joseph, led by Kentucky recruit Karl Towns, was unbeaten coming in and ranked No. 23 in the Student Sports FAB 50, but sophomore forward Joe Hampton led a comeback from an early 19-9 deficit by scoring 23 points and playing solid defense on Towns (21 points). Senior point guard Corey Henson also had a big game with 18 points.
“I’d be lying if I said this win didn’t mean something to me, just for the simple fact that when I started 12 years ago, there were some who didn’t think I’d be around for 300 games, let alone 300 wins,” Jones told Brandon Parker of the Washington Post.
Perhaps even more important than a milestone that is likely going to be added to, the victory solidified the Stags’ seemingly usual position as a nationally ranked program. The once-beaten team entered the Student Sports FAB 50 after MLK Monday for the first time this year at No. 36, the highest position among this week’s eight newcomers.
It looks like Jones’ program is on the road to successfully recovering from last year’s 14-17 mark, only the second losing season in DeMatha’s storied history. The WCAC is arguably the toughest conference/league in America and the next couple of week can catapult the Stags up in the rankings — or right back out.
The WCAC had three teams in the preseason Student Sports FAB 50 and a fourth — Bishop O’Connell (Arlington, Va.) — just outside it. On January 23, DeMatha faces No. 15 St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.), which has only lost to No. 9 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.). Two nights later, the Stags face Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.), which opened up No. 48 in the preseason FAB 50.
DeMatha was handed its only loss so far by bubble club Bishop O’Connell and the rematch is set for February 11. The Stags will also be making a trip to California fro the Nike Extravaganza where they will face bubble club Westchester (Los Angeles), plus they still have to face Paul VI, one of the most battle-tested teams in the country, two more times and close of the regular season with St. John’s College.
Jones surely doesn’t have much time to celebrate any coaching milestone but we’re sure he won’t mind if his club keeps winning.
Jones Team USA Coach For Nike Hoop Summit
On Monday, USA Basketball today announced the 10-member roster for the 2014 USA Junior National Select Team that Mike Jones will have the honor of coaching. On April 12 at the Moda Center in Portland, Ore., the team will face the World Select Team in the 2014 Nike Hoop Summit.
The Nike Hoop Summit features America’s top seniors playing against a World Select Team comprised of elite, international players age 19 years old or younger.
Jones’ team will consist of:
Cliff Alexander (Curie, Chicago) 6-9 F
Joel Berry II (Lake Highland Prep, Apopka, Fla.) 6-0 G
James Blackmon Jr. (Marian, Marion, Ind.) 6-2
Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif.) 6-7 F
Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Apple Valley, Minn.) 6-1 G
Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young, Chicago) 6-10 C
Kelly Oubre (Findlay Prep, Henderson, Nev.) 6-7 F
Theo Pinson (Wesleyan Christian Academy, High Point, N.C.) 6-6 F
Myles Turner (Trinity, Euless, Texas) 6-11 C
Justise Winslow (St. John’s School, Houston) 6-6 F
Noticeably absent from this team is 6-foot-5 Emmanuel Mudiay of Prime Prep (Dallas, Texas), the most physically dominant point guard in the country and the leading vote-getter in the latest Student Sports Mr. Basketball USA Tracker.
Jones was the coach for the 2013 USA Junior National Select Team and was an assistant coach for the 2012 club. The DeMatha mentor also has international experience as an assistant coach for the 2012 USA U17 World Championship Team, the 2011 USA U16 National Team and the East Team in the 2004 Youth Development Festival.