By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – Brian Alexander was a winner with Bree Harris his first day on the job as Northeast Mississippi Community College’s new women’s basketball coach.
That’s a good thing. Harris will be one of his players next season.
“I had no idea who he was,” said Harris, a sophomore guard from New Site. “You don’t know what to expect, but after hearing him, I like him.
“I think the end result with him will be good. I’m excited.”
Alexander, 34, is a Booneville native and a Northeast graduate with coaching experience – men and women – on the high school, junior college, NCAA Division I and professional levels. He says he’ll draw on those experiences to help him lead the Lady Tigers program.
“It’s very humbling,” said Alexander, who greeted school officials, students and fans at a news conference by shouting, “Hello, Tiger Nation!” “I appreciate the opportunity to coach the most tradition-rich community college program in the state.”
He replaces Ricky Ford, who retired earlier this year after coaching 30 seasons at Northeast. Ford, who remains as athletics director and dean of student services for the school, compiled a 588-226 record, won a national championship, nine state championships and 15 division titles in his career.
“Coach Ford is a living legend, a guy I have great respect for,” said Alexander, who coached the Tupelo Rock-N-Rollers of the World Basketball Exposure Association, a men’s pro league, in 2009. “You look at his nine state championships, his 15 MACJC division titles, all those things, and it can be overwhelming for a young coach.
“I don’t look at it that way. They hired me to do a job and they think I can do the job.”
Ford likes Alexander’s vision for the program.
“I don’t look at this young man as someone who’s replacing me,” Ford said. “He’s someone who can lead this program to levels it has never seen before.”
Alexander believes to build a successful program a coach must take care of his players academically, athletically and spiritually. “You have to learn to compete in all walks of life,” he said.
He’s also a firm believer in player development and strong recruiting.
“I love the coaches in this district, they coach the game,” he said. “I like the (in-district) players. They’re easier to coach because they’ve been coached on a high level in high school.”
Alexander’s coaching philosophy – a sound defense and an offense designed to fit the players’ talents – comes from a book, a 250-page unpublished hoops manuscript he’s written with all the knowledge he’s absorbed during his coaching career.
“I’ve been fortunate to work with some outstanding head coaches and assistant coaches through the years,” he said. “It’s a collection of everything from the people I’ve worked with.
“There’s even a section in the back for things I didn’t like.”
Northeast president Johnny Allen was thrilled with the search committee’s selection.
“Brian is an outstanding young man; we’re proud to have him back at Northeast,” he said.
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian Alexander File
– Family: Wife, Cassie; Children, Kinsley, 5, and Colson 3. A third child, a son, will be born in May.
– Education: Northeast (associate), Mississippi State (undergraduate, doctorate), Southern Mississippi (master’s)
– Coaching: Columbus High School, Southern Mississippi, Southeastern Louisiana University, Campbell University, Itawamba Community College, Tupelo Rock-N-Rollers, WBEA.