Mike Jones Doesn’t Miss a Beat In Taking Over USA U16 Men’s Team
Mike Jones is always picking up something new. It is what helps him stay on top of his game.
On one hand, Jones’ success as the boys basketball coach at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland, helps him earn and maintain a key role with USA Basketball. On the other hand, he takes what he learns from coaching with various USA Basketball levels and applies it to his team at DeMatha.
It truly is a circle of success.
“They are two totally different entities, the competition is totally different,” Jones said. “I just know that the one thing that I take to USA (Basketball) from DeMatha is I know I'm representing my community here when I do anything, just like the young men that play for USA are representing their communities, and their schools and their team. I learn so much every time I'm with USA that I bring right back here to DeMatha. So, it is a two-way street, but the competitions are so drastically different.”
In 2019, Jones found himself in a familiar position: the class of the competition. Jones guided the USA men to the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Brazil. For his work, was named as a 2019 USA Basketball Co-Developmental Coach of the Year. He shares the award with Mark Campbell, who guided the U.S. women to the FIBA Americas U16 Championship title in Chile.
“It is truly an honor and a blessing that means so much to me and my family,” Jones said. “I share this with (assistant coaches Sharman White and Eric Flannery), as well as the young men that did such a tremendous job of representing our country in the FIBA Americas U16 Championship. Together, we accomplished our goal and this award will always be a reminder of that.”
Jones faced added pressure with this USA Basketball assignment. Not only was it his first as a head coach for a FIBA competition, but he was following in the footsteps of the legendary Don Showalter, who went 25-0 with the USA U16 team in FIBA Americas competition since 2009. Jones — who also replaced a legend, Morgan Wootten, at DeMatha — didn’t miss a beat, going 6-0, capped by a 94-77 win over Canada for the gold medal.
“(I learned) so much,” Jones said. “I mean, just the way the game is changing, my ability to be able to kind of flow with the nuances of the game of basketball. Some things that we were able to do with USA (are things) that I want to be able to coach my team up to be able to do, the flow of the game, the pace of the game.
“And you know, FIBA basketball is so different, just the speed of it and all of the little coaching nuances with a shorter shot clock and different strategies at the end of quarters with fouls and things like that. And even timeouts, because timeout situations are different. FIBA basketball makes you think a lot more and all of those things I think help make me a better coach. And obviously, I want to bring all of that back here to DeMatha.”
As for taking over for Showalter, Jones said his experience from replacing Wootten — perhaps the most famous high school coach in history — before the 2002-03 season certainly helped this time around.
“The recognition that comes along with following behind a legend like that, I guess I could say I was already used to, but again, following Coach Showalter was just a hugely different thing, because the world is watching,” said Jones. “It's not just, you know, United States high school basketball, it's not just the D.C. area watching what's going to happen with DeMatha, it was the world watching what's going to happen with the 16-and-under national team from the USA without Coach Showalter. But again, that is something that myself and Coach White and Coach Flannery definitely embraced.
“I mean, we were honored to be selected as the guys that kind of follow in his footsteps. That is as humbling but also as high of an honor as I can think of, just being trusted with that.”