DeMatha taps St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes’s Mike Jones as next basketball coach

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The DeMatha basketball program ended a long and much-discussed search for a permanent head coach Thursday by turning to a familiar name with an unfamiliar face.

Mike Jones, the head boys’ basketball coach at St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes, will take over the most prestigious job in D.C. area high school basketball, becoming the Stags’ third full-time leader since 1956. He inherits the job from another Mike Jones, the longtime Stags coach who left to become the top assistant at Virginia Tech last spring.

In four seasons as the head coach in Alexandria, the 47-year old Jones led St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes to three Interstate Athletic Conference titles and propelled the Saints to a new level of local recognition.

The decision may come as a surprise to those who expected the Stags to hire a DeMatha alum or former assistant. After Hall of Fame coach Morgan Wootten made DeMatha a household name across a dominant 46-year career, the Hyattsville school has boasted an accomplished and proud network of basketball minds.

Bishop O’Connell Coach Joe Wootten, Morgan’s son and a former Stags assistant, was among those interviewed for the position, according to sources close to the search.

The hiring marks the end of an extended period of uncertainty within the esteemed program, one that began last spring when Mike Jones left after 19 years to become the top assistant for the Hokies. The school named Pete Strickland, a former college coach and Stags alum, the interim coach for this season.

That move was met with some public frustration, as parents and alumni questioned the school’s decision-making and hiring process. Despite this and a few other early stumbles, the Stags finished 21-7 under Strickland this winter, ending their season with a championship victory at the prestigious Alhambra Catholic Invitational.

All the while, the DeMatha administration reiterated its desire to have a full hiring process to find Jones’s full-time successor. In late January, the school announced that the search for a new coach had officially begun.

It ended more than two months later with the selection of Jones. Before St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes, he coached at Perry Street Prep in the District before working in the video department for the Brooklyn Nets for two years. He was a standout basketball player at TCU and played for 11 years overseas.

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