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.