June has been a great month for Carroll County athletics.
Two weeks after making the home run hire of Kevin DeHaven as head baseball coach, Carroll County has followed it up with a slam dunk, hiring the school’s all-time leading scorer Tee Jackson as head boys’ basketball coach. Not only does Jackson bring a ton of basketball knowledge to the program, he also provides stability. Jackson has been an assistant coach under his predecessor, Brad Hawks, for the past five seasons.
“We have made two great, great hires this summer and both of them are Cavalier to the core. I feel good about that because they really care about the program,” Carroll County Athletic Director Darrin Matthews said. “The program now has the same stability it had because we have someone who was there and knows the kids. He won’t have any trouble assembling a staff. We have been very blessed and we are in very good hands.”
A 2003 graduate of CCHS, Jackson is Carroll County’s all-time leading scorer with 1,358 career points. The third freshman in Cavalier basketball history to play varsity basketball, Jackson surpassed the 1,000-point milestone in just the fourth game of his senior season.
After amassing several all-district, all-region and honorable mention all-state honors, Jackson continued his career at Roanoke College under legendary coach Page Moir. His CCHS jersey is now retired and he still ranks 10th all-time in 3-pointers at Roanoke College with 114. Jackson originally decided to step down from coaching when Hawks resigned earlier this year, but recently had a change of heart.
“I am thrilled. I really care a lot for the kids and the basketball program and the school,” Jackson said. “Obviously having played here and being able to coach here, I really want to see the team and the school be successful. I am thrilled to be a part of it.”
Jackson has been with the Cavaliers for some of the best seasons in school history, particularly in 2013 when Carroll won the Region IV championship for the first time in 33 years. That team tied a school record for wins with 24. Even though the program lost a ton of talent from that team, the Cavaliers have remained mostly competitive thanks in large part to excellent game-planning by Hawks and Jackson.
“Tee was our first choice to take over the program and we are glad it worked out. He is a winner and we hope he continues the success the boys’ basketball team has had,” CCHS Principal Chuck Thompson said. “When you had a team with eight or nine kids go to play at college, you figured there would be a drop-off, but I think they did a great job coaching. They went to Patrick Henry and beat them at Patrick Henry and some other games they probably shouldn’t have won but they did. And some games they lost by a few baskets that probably should have been worse than what it was. They did a nice job coaching and Tee is an important part of that.”
Under Hawks, Carroll’s offensive system changed some throughout the years to fit the team’s personnel. But the Cavaliers almost always played tough defense. Jackson doesn’t expect much to change in terms of the systems Carroll will run.
“Brad is a close friend and it will be strange not having him, but we developed a good chemistry over the years working together,” Jackson said. “Part of what I enjoy about coaching is the X’s and O’s and game-planning and coming up with ways to exploit opponents. A lot will be personnel dependent, but it will be similar to Brad. I have talked to him twice already today. He did such a great job as head coach and he is welcome to come around anytime he wants. I know the kids would love to see him. He was a very successful college player and there’s a lot he can teach, especially to our big guys.”
Jackson said Jay Holderfield, who has been Carroll’s head JV coach in recent years, will rejoin the program as a varsity assistant coach. The two have been best friends all the way back to preschool and Jackson is elated to have him back in the program.
“I am excited to have a person at school I really trust and he is very organized,” Jackson said. “He will be a big benefit to me with me being outside the school system.”
Jackson, 31, and his wife Amy have two children, Bryce, 3, and Tucker, seven months. He’s excited about the future of Cavalier basketball. With the win over Patrick Henry last season, Carroll has now beaten every team in the River Ridge District. The Cavaliers have also had huge wins over E.C. Glass and other prominent programs in recent years as well.
“I am excited and I think we have shown we can compete with anybody, schools from Roanoke and Lynchburg,” Jackson said. “It’s funny how life works. I would have never imagined having the opportunity to do this. But I love the game and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to have a positive impact on kids.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN