Dr. Brian Bell’s first hire as Director of Schools for the City of Alcoa is a doozy.
Bell confirmed Wednesday morning that former University of Tennessee associate head coach Tony Jones Jr. has been hired as the new boys' basketball coach at Alcoa High School.
Jones replaces former Tornado coach Micah Marsh, who resigned at the end of the school year to take a similar post at a private school in Arkansas.
“This is only Day 2 (on the job),” Bell said. “On Day 1, I had to hire a basketball coach. If you’re going to start, you might as well start with a bang.”
After Marsh’s resignation last month, Alcoa principal Scott Porter said the school accepted applications for three weeks, with several desirable candidates throwing their hats in the ring. Receiving Jones’ application was a jolt, Porter said, that is, until he met him.
“He said he thought a lot about where he was in his career,” Porter said. “He loves Knoxville. His family loves Knoxville, and he wanted to stay here. In meeting coach Jones, he was really humbled to have the opportunity to come here. He’d been at the college level and he was looking for a change.”
The move from Division I to the high school ranks is anything but common, and, upon receiving Jones’ application, Porter said his first concern was how long the potential headliner coach would want to stay at the helm of the Tornadoes.
“I didn’t want a coach to come here and leave after a short time,” Porter said.
Jones allayed those fears during his interview, Porter said. Jones’ late father, a former high school coach himself, perhaps had a lot to do with the move.
“His father was a high school coach,” Porter said. “I think he saw it as a chance to carry on his legacy.”
The hiring of Jones gives Alcoa two of the state’s highest profile coaches in two of its biggest sports. Hall of Fame football coach Gary Rankin has the Tornadoes currently on a record-setting run of seven consecutive state championships. The basketball Tornadoes are still looking for their state title since the miracle team of 1967 knocked off powerhouse Holston in three overtimes at the University of Tennessee’s Stokely Athletic Center.
“I just hope by adding coach Jones to our staff it will only strengthen what we do here athletically,” Porter said.
The school isn’t planning a press conference to introduce its new coach, he said, choosing instead to let Jones assimilate into the school system as would any other teacher.
“I just hired a librarian I think is a rock star,” Porter said.
No press conference is scheduled for that hire, either, he said.