Moving out of state before your senior year to live with your other parent is not often the ideal way to cap a high school basketball career. There’s a new school, a new team, a new home situation, a new reputation to build.
Jones, who last week helped lead the Wolverines to their first Virginia AAA Commonwealth District championship since 1986, had been living in South Carolina with his mother. But the all-state player wanted to move in with his father in Stafford County, and join his sister, Brianna Dotson, at North Stafford, because he thought it would improve his college prospects.
So his mother, Lisa Jones, decided to move back to Northern Virginia, found a new job and settled in Bealeton, where the family had lived previously, about 30 minutes from ex-husband Warren.
“I couldn’t leave my baby,” Lisa Jones said with a smile, flanked by Warren, as they took in the net-clipping ceremony after the Wolverines’ 60-43 district championship win last week over Mountain View . The win spawned a line of “26 Years Is Long Enough!!!” commemorative T-shirts and hoodies at the school.
“She made a big sacrifice — a lot of people wouldn’t have done it — for him to come and stay with me,” said Warren Jones, who had once made a similar move to South Carolina. “We’ve always gotten along, so that’s never been an issue. We’ve parented together.”
So this season, T.J. Jones has ready access to both parents. His team is 23-3 and beat Potomac in a Northwest Region quarterfinal on Tuesday, the first regional win in school history. He’s averaging 20 points and was named district player of the year. And he is being recruited by many schools, mostly in Division II but some Division I, which was not the case in South Carolina.
“Everything’s worked out,” Jones said. “I know any time I want to I can drive to my mom’s house and spend time with her side of the family, and all my dad’s family is in Virginia. They want the best for their kids. They don’t really care what differences they have between each other.”
“His grades have gotten a lot better, his attitude, his game, everything,” Lisa Jones said. “And he loves being with his dad.”
Warren Jones, the junior varsity girls’ coach at Massaponax, made it to several of his son’s games in South Carolina but often had to monitor his son’s play via DVDs that Lisa would mail him. T.J. would spend time working out with him in the summer.
“He knows my game better than anybody else,” T.J. said.
It was clear that the 6-foot-1 Jones would be an impact player when he arrived at North Stafford, not only with his scoring — he topped 30 points in five of his first six games — but with his passing and other skills. He had 18 rebounds against Woodbridge.
“When he finds somebody, they finish,” North Stafford Coach Brad Lear said. “It’s not like he’s finding somebody and they’re booting it and he feels more pressure to do it himself.”
Jones and the Wolverines could become the second Stafford County boys’ basketball team to reach the state tournament if they win a region semifinal Thursday at Osbourn (22-2).
That would only add to the list of positive outcomes from his, and his mom’s, move north.
“We never had any doubt that it would work out,” Warren Jones said. “Now this well? I don’t know that we could have predicted that. I’ve seen him just blossom. We made an educated decision, but still, you never know until you get here.”