Dunbar boys basketball coach Cyrus Jones Sr., who guided the Poets to five state championships and two Baltimore City championships in 12 years as head coach, announced he has stepped down from the position.
Jones, who was a standout player for the Poets from 1989 to 1992, finished with a 226-72 mark with the team’s most recent state crown coming last season. Prior to taking over as head coach, he was part four state titles and two Baltimore City titles as an assistant coach. Overall, the program has won a record 16 state championships.
“I want to thank the people who gave me the opportunity,” he said. “It’s a historic school with a great basketball tradition and to be able to carry that on and be the head coach for the past 12 years, it was an honor being an alumni of the school.”
Dunbar athletic director Dana Johnson was appreciative of the consistently fine work Jones put into the program.
“Coach Jones was an excellent role model for our young men. Being a Dunbar grad, he was able to bring that stability and that tradition to the program that only a Dunbar alum and former player could bring,” she said. “He had that mystique with him because he was part of those teams that did awesome things. He was always a positive person, it was always about the young men and he always found a way to make them better and put them in better situations.”
Jones said he has been considering stepping down the past few years — re-evaluating each season as it comes — and felt now was the right time to move on. The Poets finished with a 16-9 mark this season, falling to No. 6 Lake Clifton, 62-60, in the Class 1A North region semifinals.
“The culture has changed. I think our student athletes, their focus is not fully there and they need to be encouraged and pushed a little more. But you can only do so much as a coach and that was tough at times. The way things are now, it really brought me to this decision,” he said.
He leaves Dunbar proud of what the program has accomplished in the time he served as coach.
“It was never just about basketball and winning games. We tried to instill certain qualities in the student athletes that they would need once they left high school,” he said.
Jones is looking forward to his next opportunity, saying he is open to coach at any level, whether it be middle school, high school or the college level. He continues to coach Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball.
“I am not retiring from coaching basketball,” he said. “I’m going to weigh my options. I can’t say anything concrete is in place right now, but I’ll be pursuing other avenues as I see fit and I’m open to all opportunities so we’ll see what happens as far as what God has in store for me.”
Johnson said the school is accepting applications to fill the coaching position left behind by Jones.