Lakeland hires new coachPublished 10:48pm Friday, September 14, 2012
By Matthew Hatfield
Lakeland High School introduced Clint Wright as its new varsity boys basketball coach on Friday afternoon.
Wright, 43, spent the last two seasons as the head basketball coach at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy. A new challenge awaits him, one that he simply couldn’t resist.
“I’m ecstatic about the opportunity to not only coach basketball at Lakeland, but also to mold these players for both basketball and for life,” Wright said.
“To be the next coach and have that opportunity to potentially take them to the next level has me overjoyed. I’m excited that the administration will entrust in me the basketball program. Nansemond-Suffolk Academy was a great experience for me that I don’t regret one bit. To get to coach at the highest level of basketball in AAA in Virginia is going to be a thrill.”
Wright becomes only the third basketball coach at Lakeland since its opening in 1990. John Fuller coached the Cavaliers for 13 seasons, highlighted by a trip to the Group AA State Championship game in 1996. Wright replaces James Jones, who presided over the basketball program for the past nine seasons, posting an overall record of 98-110.
Wright played basketball at Norfolk State University, playing on its last CIAA Championship winning team in 1991. He graduated a year later in 1991, but saw his basketball career end when he suffered a broken ankle. That’s when he decided to get into coaching. He credits his coach when he was at Norfolk State, Charles Christian, who also coached at Booker T. Washington and John F. Kennedy high schools in Suffolk, for instilling in him many of the values and principles he uses in coaching today.
The Suffolk roots for Wright run deep. His son is Derek Wright, who hit the go-ahead three-pointer in King’s Fork’s 2009 state title win. His nephew is Nick Wright, who starred at Nansemond River and now is a senior basketball player at Old Dominion University.
Before going to NSA, Wright spent four seasons as an assistant to Franklin Chatman at Nansemond River. After that he went to King’s Fork, spending five years as an assistant to current Bulldogs coach Josh Worrell. Getting to coach at four different schools in the city of Suffolk is unique, and he believes the Cavaliers have the athletes to compete with anyone.
“I think that the guys that are attending here are significant players, even while I sat across from them at Nansemond River or King’s Fork. What was nice for me when I met with them was they all raised their hands and said they want to go to college. Right then, that told me there’s a drive that they have and it’s up to me to bring it out of them so people can see,” Wright noted.
As for the style of play to expect from Lakeland, Wright believes it’ll be one the fans are eager to see. The Cavaliers last made it to the region playoffs in 2009, and being in contention for postseason play on an annual basis is a goal for Wright.
“We’re going to be very intense, playing on the edge and to have that physical nature. I think that’s the makeup of these types of athletes. We’re basically going to go at them,” Wright says. “I think people are going to be excited about what’s going on, and hopefully that excites the crowd to see the brand of basketball we’re planning to play.”
Lakeland will open up Southeastern District play against Hickory on Nov. 27. Their first district home game will come versus Suffolk rival Nansemond River on Dec. 4.