Leake County High School hires ex-NBA Houston Rockets star Hilton Harrell 

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Coach Hilton Harrell and NBA star Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers

Former Houston Rocket guard Hilton Harrell is bringing his professional expertise and experience to Leake County High School as the new head basketball coach for the 2023-2024 season. 

Harrell, a 6’4” shooting guard for the Houston Rockets, has been hired to transform the Leake County High School Gators basketball team into a powerhouse to be reckoned with in the upcoming season. 

Born and raised in Magnolia, Mississippi, Harrell attended Liberty High School in Amite County. He graduated from Southwest Community College and Mississippi College. Harrell holds a Master of Business Administration degree concentrating in Educational Leadership and Supervision. 

In April 2019, Harell was inducted into the Mississippi Community College Hall of Fame. At present, he is employed with the South Pike School District. 

Harrell is a member of MHSAA, NIAA, and the NFHS. He also is a National Interscholastic Certified Athletic Administrator, placing him among an elite group of interscholastic athletic administrators nationwide to have attained this level of professionalism. 

Harrell has served on boards, including the Foundation Board at Southwest Mississippi Community College and  the Board of Southwest Mississippi Medical Center Hospital.

Harrell’s recognitions include being inducted into the Mississippi College Sports Hall of Fame in 2015, the Southwest Community College Sports Hall of Fame in 2013, and the State Junior College Hall of Fame. 

He has been named coach of the year nearly a dozen times. His championships include District 4A state titles during the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 years. 

Harrell says, “My main goal is to impact the lives of my basketball team on and off the court so that they can change not only their lives but change their community through positive service and not being a nuisance in society by participating in delinquent behavior and activities. I hope to transform them from boys to productive men as adults no matter what profession they choose to pursue. My focus will be on teaching them the proper execution of learned and practiced basketball skills and techniques while incorporating teamwork to achieve a winning season as a 1-A division school.  Being an athlete was a grounding force in my life as a kid and it helped me to stay focused on the good things God had to offer me as I matriculated through high school, college, and as a professional NBA player on and off the court. I plan to run a training camp starting June 7th summer school schedule.” 

When asked why leave South Pike High School, Harrell explained, “I felt I needed a change and because Leake County Superintendent Dr. Earl Nelson expressed to me that he felt I could be the puzzle piece they needed at Leake County High School. And additionally, Mr. Gerry Anderson, the school principal, told me he felt I would be the adhesive to put all athletics on the same page in the county.  Having been an NBA professional I will utilize my network of other past and present-day NBA players to promote Leake County athletics throughout my tenure as head basketball coach.  I look forward to facilitating my team members meeting the likes of LeBron James and Damian Lillard whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting off the court. I enjoy the challenge of building teams that are struggling for success. I am a team player and I lead by example.”

The Leake County High School coaching job begins June 1, 2023, for Coach Harrell. However, he will continue as the senior pastor of Pleasant Grove East McComb Baptist Church in South Mississippi.  

Coach Harrell is married to Twilla Calhoun Harrell, and they have three children, doctors Jarrold, Jeremy, and  Ja’Kayla Harrell, along with three grandchildren, Adira and Aaron Harrell, and Darrah Mohammad.

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Leake County High School hires ex-NBA Houston Rockets star Hilton Harrell 

By Brinda Fuller Willis
May 29, 2023