Head coach Mike Jones has completed eight seasons at the helm of the Radford men’s basketball program after taking the position on June 14, 2011. He and his teams have won 138 games at Radford, making him the third-winningest coach in program history. Seventy-two of those wins have come against Big South competition.
Sixteen players have been named All-Big South in his time at Radford and nine players have been tabbed VaSID All-State. Under Jones, both Javonte Green (2014-15) and Ed Polite Jr. (2018-19) were named Big South Defensive Player of the Year while Carlik Jones earned Big South Freshman of the Year honors in 2017-18. The 2014-15 campaign also featured a huge academic honor as Kyle Noreen was named a CoSIDA Academic All-District member.
The 2018-19 season was full of milestones for Jones and the Highlanders. The team went 22-11 and 12-4 in conference play, earning a share of the Big South regular season title for the first time since 2008-09. Radford went on the road and knocked off Notre Dame and No. 17 Texas, the first ranked first in Radford history. Radford began its conference slate a perfect 7-0 to become one of the final 15 teams in the nation still undefeated.
The Highlanders remained atop the standings for nearly the entire season and as the No. 2 seed in the Big South Tournament, reached the title game for the second consecutive season. Four of the 10 20-plus win season in program history have now come under Jones. For his success on the court and his high moral standing off of it, he was also named a finalist for the Skip Prosser Man of the Year award following the 2018-19 season.
2017-18 was arguably Jones’ most successful season to date, the season in which he was named Big South Coach of the Year and NABC District 3 Coach of the Year honors after leading the Highlanders to a Big South championship and playing in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in program history.
Taking Coach Jones’ lead, Radford set a Division I school record with 23 wins, completing the season at 23-13. The Highlanders earned victories over notable opponents such as East Carolina and James Madison during the non-conference schedule before compiling a 12-6 Big South record to finish the regular season in second place. He also became the third head coach in Radford history to reach 100 wins on Dec. 23, 2017 when the Highlanders topped UC Davis to clinch the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic title.
The team’s postseason run was one to remember. Thanks in part to Jones preaching toughness and hard work throughout his tenure, the Highlanders overcame several obstacles in the Big South Championships to top No. 10 Longwood, No. 3 Winthrop and No. 5 Liberty to take home the program’s third ever conference title. The entire championship run culminated with “The Shot”, as redshirt freshman Carlik Jones’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer lifted Radford over in-state rival Liberty, 55-52, in front of a sellout crowd at the Dedmon Center.
Jones and the Highlanders earned a No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament and were selected to play in the First Four in Dayton, Ohio. It was there on March 13, 2018 that Radford won its first ever NCAA Tournament victory – a 71-61 win over LIU Brooklyn. The magical season came to a close with a tough loss to No. 1 overall seed Villanova who went on to win the National Championship.
The seventh head coach in program history, Jones took over a program with just one win in the season prior to his arrival on campus and led a three-year turnaround that resulted in back-to-back 22-win seasons in 2013-14 and 2014-15. Radford competed in postseason play those three seasons as well, with the Highlanders taking home the program’s first and second postseason victories over Oregon State and Delaware State in the College Basketball Invitational before the 2017-18 NCAA Tournament run.
During his tenure, the Highlanders have defeated opponents such as Texas, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Virginia Tech and Penn State. The success of the program has led to an increase in exposure all over the country with the team appearing on national and regional television countless times.
Jones was a four-year standout at Howard, where he forged a connection with fellow Howard alumnus, Felton (’85), who he calls the biggest influence on his coaching career.
Once Jones graduated with a degree in Zoology in 1990, he began his coaching career as a high school coach at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. before moving to the collegiate ranks at his alma mater in 1994.
He currently resides in the New River Valley with his wife, Dr. Sharon Blackwell Jones, and his youngest son, Miles. The oldest of his two sons, Nate, is currently a member of the Bucknell men’s basketball team.