DeMatha basketball coach Mike Jones is leaving the program after 19 seasons to take a job at Virginia Tech, the schools announced Monday.

Jones will be an associate head coach for the Hokies under Mike Young. Jones, the face of the area’s most celebrated high school sports program, was offered the top assistant position May 5, he said in a phone interview Monday. Jones said he made the final decision with his wife Monday morning. During the school day, he told the DeMatha administration and his players.

“I wanted them to know that this was the most difficult decision of my life,” Jones said. “I love them so much, and I love DeMatha so much. But in life sometimes there’s decisions that you make that are for the betterment of your family, and that’s what this decision is.”

According to GovSalaries, which keeps a database of public salary figures, Virginia Tech’s previous associate head coach, Chester Frazier, earned $320,000 annually. Frazier is now an assistant at Illinois, his alma mater.

Jones, 47, is a former standout guard for the Stags who starred at Old Dominion and later became a DeMatha assistant under Hall of Fame coach Morgan Wootten. When Wootten retired in 2002 after 46 seasons, Jones inherited the area’s most prestigious high school basketball job. He was 29 and had no head coaching experience.

Jones has established himself as not only a worthy successor to Wootten but also one of the most respected figures in the D.C. area’s ultracompetitive prep basketball scene. He won eight Washington Catholic Athletic Conference titles and has a record of 511-119. He also helped the program uphold its reputation as a Division I talent factory. Five of his former players are in the NBA, including 2017 No. 1 draft pick Markelle Fultz and 2019 all-star Victor Oladipo.

That success has attracted plenty of outside interest. Jones estimates he has been offered at least one college opportunity in each of the past 15 years.

“None of them have been what this offer is, and that’s what got my attention,” Jones said.

Jones said he was most excited by the opportunity to learn from Young and compete in the ACC with a team that has a lot of returning talent. In Young’s second season in Blacksburg, the Hokies went 15-7, losing to Florida in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

“I have had the privilege of watching Mike over the years and have continually been impressed with his ability to teach the game of basketball and mentor players,” Young said in a news release.

Last week, after rumors surfaced that Virginia Tech was targeting Jones, the coach was bombarded with messages from Hokies fans urging him to join the program.

“That love caught me off guard,” Jones said. “For so many fans, who don’t even know me, to reach out and say they wanted me to join this community? I could not be more excited and ready to pour everything I have into that basketball program.”

In addition to his coaching duties at DeMatha, Jones taught at the Hyattsville school and has been involved with USA Basketball since 2004. This spring, he has served as the coach for the under-16 national team.

This past winter, pandemic restrictions limited DeMatha to a condensed schedule without a postseason, and the team finished 11-0. In Jones’s last full season at DeMatha, 2019-20, he led the Stags to the 41st conference title in program history and their second in three seasons.

The final game of the year, played just weeks before the pandemic shut down high school athletics across the country, was a 70-56 victory over Paul VI in the WCAC title game. It was the 500th win of Jones’s head coaching career.

“The basketball culture in this area is second to none,” Jones said. “… And I plan, as long as I’m coaching, to get guys from this area to come and play with me.”

Jones said he has not given any thought to who will replace him as coach of the Stags or whether he will play any part in that hiring process. Whoever takes the position will be just the school’s third coach since 1956.

“DeMatha means everything to me,” Jones said. “It’s at the core of who I am as a person. I owe everything I’ve done thus far to this program and anything I do in the future to this program.”

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