Liberty County alumnus Julian Stokes is the new Panther varsity basketball coach, replacing Willie Graham who retired earlier this year.
Stokes, who graduated in 2010, played football and basketball in high school.
“It’s an honor, and I am really blessed and fortunate to be in this position,” Stokes said while thanking LCHS Principal Stephanie Woods, Athletic Director Dr. Warnella Wilder and Graham.
“I want to thank them for believing in me and letting me take over the program after him,” Stokes said. “I know we’ve had a lot of success in the past, and I feel like I am fit for the job to keep building on the success of this program. I am excited for this year.”
The first-year head coach said he is trying to acclimate himself to the position.
“I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself. There will be enough of that as it is with me being a young coach and my first year … I am going to take it a step at a time,” he said, noting he learned a lot as an assistant coach last year.
“… And do the best I can do to mold these guys into men and into basketball players,” he said. “First goal is to get through the season, then make our run through the region, and if God blesses us, we get to state.”
Stokes said Jordan Tyler Redmon has been hired to run the junior varsity boys. Redmon was coaching at East Hall in North Georgia. Football coach Kirk Warner will coach the ninth-grade team.
Stokes’ team has a wealth of talent.
In addition to having one of the top guards in the state, Auburn commit Davion Mitchell, the team acquired William Richardson who transferred from Bradwell.
“He can be a big help for us this year, and the thing about him is that he is only a sophomore,” Stokes said about Richardson. “He still has time to grow. Where he is right now, he is a good player. And Davion is going to be Davion. I haven’t seen a player like him in a while. As far as talent, he may be the best to come around since Jordan McRae and Rion Brown. I’m looking forward to coaching him for the next two years.”
The Panthers also have returning veterans Jishaun Harris, Tyriq Reece, Comer Kite, Tyler Thomas and Tyreon Freeman. Once football is over, multi-talented Richard LeCounte joins the mix, along with Martial Washington and Jaalon Frazier.
The caliber of players will determine their style of play, Stokes added.
“With the type of guys that we have and their personality, I would like to bring a lot of energy to the team. We have a lot of athletes, so we will be run and gun, and we will get a little more press in. And our main thing has always been our man-to-man defense, and we’ll stick with that, but we will let our athleticism show,” he said.
Stokes said Region 3-AAAA will be tough.
“Every game is important, no matter who we are playing, we will look at them as if they were an undefeated team and we have to take them down,” he said.
The coach will usher in the new era Saturday when Liberty plays crosstown rival Bradwell at the Tigers’ home gym.
The girls will tip off at 6:30 p.m., and the boys follow