JCJC Athletics Press Release
ELLISVILLE – Jones County Junior College has a new men's basketball coach.
Rahim Lockhart, currently the head coach at Madison Central High School, will be officially introduced at an 11 a.m. press conference Monday in the JCJC Media Room.
"First, I am tremendously blessed to have this opportunity," Lockhart said by phone Friday morning. "It is a great move for me both professionally and personally and I am so excited about going to Jones. Jones is no secret – it's the best junior college in the state.
"They just won a national championship in basketball, football is always good and their baseball team is ranked No. 1 in the nation. They have a great campus and the things Jones can offer are second to none. When this opportunity came to me, it was a no-brainer."
Lockhart replaces Jay Ladner, who left last month to become the head basketball coach at Southeastern Louisiana University. Ladner guided the Bobcats to the MACJC's first-ever NJCAA Division I basketball championship in March in Hutchinson, Kan.
Lockhart has served as head coach at Madison Central since 2011, where he led the Jaguars to the 6A North State title in 2013 and 2014 and the 6A state finals in 2013. He was head coach at Grenada from 2009-11, leading the Chargers to North State in 2011.
Lockhart was the head coach at Taylorsville from 2007-09, guiding the Tartars to the 2A championship quarterfinals in 2008 and 2009 and a district championship in 2009. He served as an assistant coach at Piney Woods from 2005-07, helping the Tornadoes to the 2A state finals in 2007.
"I have been blessed to be a part of some elite programs," he said. "When I started at Taylorsville, I was at the best 2A school in the state. They have a great athletics program. I moved up and there is no better 6A program in the state than Madison Central. They are a perennial power in football, great in basketball, outstanding in baseball, bowling or any sport.
"Madison Central was like being at a small junior college."
Even though it will be his first junior college coaching position, Lockhart said there is not much difference in the sport on any level.
"The biggest thing will be, instead of dealing with 15-18-year-olds, you're dealing with players that are 18, 19, 20 or 21-years-old," he said. "Other than that, you have a round ball, a flat court and a goal that's 10 feet high."
Lockhart will meet with the returning Bobcat players on Friday afternoon.
"The most important thing for me right now is to meet with the team and let them how we want to expand the program," he said. "I want them to know my commitment to them and the program. I already know their commitment by what they have accomplished.
"After that, I have to put together a great support staff."
Lockhart, a Mendenhall native, played at Ole Miss from 1998-2001.
He led the Rebels to NCAA Tournament appearances in 1998, 1999 and 2001 and an NIT berth in 2000. In 2001, he helped Ole Miss to a school-record 27 wins and the school's first NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance.
He was a third-team All-American selection, was an All-SEC performer and an All-SEC Tournament selection.
Lockhart looks forward to being a Bobcat.
"I'm from right up the road in Simpson County and I've coached at Taylorsville," he said. "I am familiar with Jones and I know what the school is all about."