As Michael Jones of Woodbury was watching 12th-seed Davidson College take on mighty Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA tournament, he had to be thinking - next year I'll be a part of that team.
Bound for Davidson on a basketball scholarship, the 6-foot-4 shooting guard senior leaves as one of the best basketball players in Woodbury High School history.
"He's the best player that's ever played at Woodbury High School," said Woodbury head basketball coach Kent Getzlaff. "He's done some amazing things individually. The three teams that he's been a part of - two conference championships, 60 total wins in three years. He firmly established himself as - in my opinion - the best player to ever go to this high school."
Jones will attend Davidson College next fall, a small liberal arts college located north of Charlotte, North Carolina, whose most famous basketball alumni is Stephen Curry of Golden State Warriors fame. Davidson plays in the Atlantic 10 Conference
Jones started getting attention from college coaches mostly after his junior season. He looked at schools in Minnesota and Iowa before taking two East Coast trips to visit several schools. He got offers from Northern Iowa, Drake, Dartmouth, Lehigh, and Wofford
Jones toured the North Carolina school in August and instantly decided it was the right place for him.
"I just really liked the campus, the guys, the coaches and the atmosphere," Jones said. "I think in maybe less than a week after that I committed."
As a senior at Woodbury, Jones averaged 25.7 points per game, eighth best scoring average in the state. His season total of 592 points was the 15th best in Minnesota this season. He shot at an amazing .429 clip from 3-point range.
But more than just a scorer, Jones often ran the team, doled out assists, rebounded strongly for a guard and was a tenacious defender. He sees his strengths as his shooting, his length and his basketball IQ.
Jones finished his career with 1,793 points, busting the record of 1,708 set by 2007 graduate Max Hintz. In 91 games, Jones made 510 of 1,071 field goals (47 percent), 376 of 446 free throws (84 percent). He had 466 rebounds.
In three seasons on the varsity, Jones led Woodbury to a pair of Suburban East Conference basketball titles as a sophomore and junior and a third-place league finish this winter.
The Woodbury teams he stared on went 24-4, 20-8 and 16-12 the last three seasons and won 40 of 48 conference games.
Jones was among 10 finalists for the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association's inaugural McDonald Award, joining Tre Jones of Apple Valley, Owen King of Caledonia, Daniel Oturu of Cretin-Derham Hall, Calvin Wishart of Delano, Gabe Kalscheur of DeLaSalle, Noah Kannegiesser of Hancock, JaVonni Bickham of Minnehaha Academy, Matt Todd of Monticello and Jarvis Omersa of Orono.
In a star-studded year for Minnesota prep players, he was named a second-team All-Metro selection by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Jones' basketball career started early, at age 3 or 4. Before the basement in his home was finished, he and his dad would play basement basketball with mini tyke-hoops stationed at each end, on a spray-painted the floor.
"We'd go down there and I'd play a bunch, every night pretty much," Jones said.
At Davidson next season, Jones said he'll be happy to play either at the point or as a two guard.
"I feel like my game is pretty versatile," Jones said. "I'll be ready to step in wherever they need me. I think they think I can do a lot of different things."
Jones has a basket full of great memories playing with the Royals, including playing on back-to-back title teams. One memorable game that wasn't with Woodbury came during summer play when Jones's team went to a Wisconsin team camp.
"We only had five guys and one of our guys ended up getting injured," Jones said. "We won a game with four players. That is probably one of my favorite memories."
Jones has drawn rave reviews from opposing players and coaches throughout his career and especially this season.
"Heck of player and an awesome career," said East Ridge head coach Bryce Tesdahl. "That kid has done a lot of great things and will continue to do a lot of great things."
"Mike Jones, he's a great player," said East Ridge forward Ben Carlson. "He's going to have a really good college career. It's always tough playing against him."
Davidson College opponents will likely find that just as true going forward.
Woodbury boys basketball top 10 all-time leading scorers
Name / Career Points / Average/game
- Michael Jones 1,791 19.70
- Max Hintz 1,708 15.81
- Matt Bennett 1,325 12.16
- Bruce Kaupa 1,317 19.66
- Nick Quicksell 1,242 15.33
- Shane Lineham 1,223 16.53
- Renard Suggs 1,202 14.14
- Matt Ambriz 1,129 15.47
- Paul Voight 943 14.07
- Jeremiah Codden 925 15.68