By Brandon Speck
Nick Coln got a nice early birthday present this week. Coln, who will turn 36 on July 12, has been hired as the new boys basketball coach at Smithville.
Coln takes over for Greg Haynes, who retired after five seasons with the Seminoles. He’s also now a tenant in one of the nicest gyms in Mississippi.
“It’s the best 1A gym I’ve ever seen,” Coln said. “It ranks up there with the best in the state.”
It is Coln’s third head coaching gig. He spent seven seasons at Alcorn Central, his alma mater, and one at Olive Branch before spending the last three seasons as an assistant at Northeast CC.
Coln said he initially wanted to explore junior college options but decided to get back into the high school ranks for more than one reason.
“I got my Master’s and thought I wanted to pursue the college ranks, especially juco, but with the state (recruiting) opening up, I wasn’t home very much and didn’t see my family,” he said, “and I missed the teaching that comes along with coaching at the high school level.”
Smithville is coming off its first North tournament trip since 2010, but returns only one starter, point guard Heath Noe.
“In juco, you do some teaching, but more of making 15 guys come together from 15 different regions,” Coln said. “I’ve always been one who loves to teach the game and about life in general.”
Coln knows what he’s teaching. He became Alcorn County’s all-time leading scorer during his high school career from 1992-97, then helped Northeast to the NJCAA National Tournament as a sophomore in Booneville.
He finished his playing career at Louisiana-Monroe, where in 2001 he was the eighth-ranked junior the country in made 3-point field goals per game. In two years in Monroe, he became fifth all-time with 157 3-pointers in 432 attempts.