When Presley Coleman left the Winona boys basketball program, it didn’t take the school district long to find his replacement.
St. Andrew’s assistant coach JaMario Rugley was recently named as Coleman’s replacement.
It’s the first head coaching job for Rugley but one that probably should have come earlier.
“It’s always been a goal and dream of mine to become a head coach,” Rugley said. “I played ball coming up and my goal was to get to the NBA but I didn’t get that break. So I turned my love and passion to coaching and impacting lives through coaching and teaching. I have been an assistant for eight years and I have been praying to the Lord to lead me to be a head coach and Winona gave me an opportunity. It’s a chance to b an educator, mentor and someone who builds character in young men.”
Rugley playing his high school basketball at Ridgeland High School and graduated in 2006. He then attended Kanada College, a junior college in Redwood City, Calif. After two years of junior college basketball, Rugley finished his collegiate career at Tugaloo College, playing for the legendary Lafayette Stribling.
Rugley has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and got his master’s degree in physical education and recreation from Jackson State.
Rugley’s first job was as an assistant at Ridgeland before he went to St. Andrew’s where he coached the ninth grade team and the junior varsity team. He was also an assistant on the high school squad that has won the Class 3A state championship three out of the last four years.
“I learned in my time at St. Andrew’s that your success is often based on your foundation,” Rugley said. “It starts in the lower grade, establishing trust and communication. I learned a lot at St. Andrew’s from putting in the hard work and overtime. St. Andrew’s allowed me to be a voice to the young men and in the community as well. That’s the same thing I’m asking for at Winona. My goal is to bring a state championship to Winona and to build character and let these young me know that academics is my most important thing off the court.”
Rugley said he likes an up-tempo philosophy.
“My philosophy depends on the personnel, but I like to plan an up-tempo game,” Rugley said. “On defense, I like to teach them to play man-to-man the right way. I like the up-tempo game but to win a state championship, you have to play half-court offense. If we have a chance to run, we are going to run. On defense, I want us to guard, to take the charges and be willing to get on the floor. And I understand a lot of small schools struggle to shoot from the outside. I think I can help them become better and more consistent shooters from the outside. To do that, we will teach them to improve their shooting from the inside out.”
Rugley said he already held tryouts for the junior high and high schools teams.
“Two days just wasn’t enough to evaluate all of these kids, especially the junior high kids,” Rugley said. “We will kick things off the first week of June and begin summer workouts. I want to keep these kids around and get them to come out and develop. I want them to come in during the summer to work and see what they can do. If they want to play, they will stick around. For those who don’t want to do it, the summer will weed them out.”