JACKSONVILLE — Who says you can't go home?
Former Jacksonville High School point guard Mark Alexander, son of the legenadary coach John Alexander, was named Thursday afternoon as the school's new boy's basketball coach.
Alexander comes to Jacksonville after working in the private sector for the past year. Prior to that he served as head boy's basketball caoch at Henderson High School for six seasons and was responsible for breathing new life into the program which included leading the Lions into the state playoffs.
"I think it is great for our kids to be able to play for a guy that is from here and that understands the kind of kids that we have," Jacksonville Athletic Director Chris Taber said. "Mark is a phenominal coach and a phenominal person."
Taber said that Alexander was selected from a short, but highly qualified, list of finalists.
"We had some really quality interviews with about three solid individuals," Taber said. "I felt like Mark was the best fit for our program and is the man that can lead our kids to the next level and that's what we have hired him for. We have our program going in the right direction and we wanted to get a guy in here that can take our program to the next level on a regular basis."
Alexander said that when he left Henderson he knew that his coaching days were not over and that he had always hoped to be able to coach at Jacksonville.
"I knew that I would get back into coaching one day, but I just don't know when," Alexander said, shortly after signing his contract on Thursday. "This is a job that I have always been interested in, but for one reason or another it wasn't the right situatiuon for me or them (Jacksonville). I think when the job (opening) came around this time it was a perfect situation for me and a pretty good situation for Jacksonville."
The Indians have been an East Texas powerhouse for the past four years, making a regional tournament appearence two years ago under former head coach Brent Kelley, who resigned earlier this month to become head coach at Whitehouse. Jacksonville's niche has been its stingy defense, something that has always been an Alexander trademark and something that will continue to be at the forefront.
"There will be a learning curve where I will have to learn the kids and they will have to learn me and that will have to come fast," Alexander said. "....defense and rebounding, in my opionion, are the biggest keys to a basketball game and those are two things that we will focus on. If you can't defend and you can't rebound you really limit your wins."
Taber said that Alexander will also be involved in coaching freshman football. He is expected to start his new job in about two weeks.