Expect to see some new faces on the Fighting Scots bench as the 2013-14 men’s basketball season gets underway.
The Scots have welcomed two new members to the coaching staff, Greg Hernandez and Jamaal Hickman, who will assist Head Coach Randy Lambert in efforts to improve on an unsatisfying 2012-13 season. Both Hernandez and Hickman bring with them years of basketball knowledge and experience that will undoubtedly benefit the program.
Hernandez returns to his alma mater after graduating from Maryville College in 2010. Hernandez played under Lambert throughout his four years while earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
In Hernandez’s time at MC, the Fighting Scots achieved an outstanding 89-22 record while winning 4 USA South Conference Championships. Hernandez emerged as an elite post player in his junior season, being named to the All-South Athletic Conference Team. His senior season was even more impressive, however, as Hernandez was named Great South Athletic Conference Player of the Year as well as earning All-American honors by the NABC and D3hoops.com.
After excelling at the collegiate level, Hernandez took his talents overseas to play professionally. He signed with the RCT Glamorgan Gladiators in the United Kingdon, and was named the England Basketball League Division II Player of the Year in 2011. In 2013, while playing with the Essex Leopards, Hernandez was awarded the England Basketball League’s Division I Finals MVP honors.
Hernandez’s many years of playing experience should overshadow his lack of collegiate coaching. In Coach Lambert’s many years leading the Scots, he has installed a highly complex playing system that has is difficult to stop when running at full force. As a former player, Hernandez has a high level of familiarity with Lambert’s principles, which should prove beneficial as the Scots move forward. Hernandez is ecstatic for the opportunity to coach at MC.
“It’s a great honor to come back to the college after playing here and graduating. This is something I’ve wanted to do for the past couple years,” Hernandez said. “I’m excited to both help and learn under Coach Lambert.”
As for the upcoming season, Hernandez is determined to help the Scots get back on track after a disappointing 2012-13 season.
“We’re trying to get the program back to where it has been in the past,” Hernandez said. “I’m hoping we have a very successful year and get back into the (NCAA) Tournament.”
The other new addition to the coaching staff, Hickman, has joined the MC basketball program to assist Lambert, while also taking on the role of junior varsity head coach. Hickman has compiled a diverse resume of basketball experience through both playing and coaching at various levels of competition. He attended Jacksonville State from 1996-1999, playing guard for the Gamecocks while earning a degree in Sociology with a minor in physical education.
Upon graduating, Hickman moved to Atlanta and began helping local children with skill development, as well as helping young athletes get into colleges throughout the southeast. Hickman then began coaching at the high school level, serving as an assistant coach at Douglas County High School in Georgia for three years.
In 2009, Hickman was hired as an assistant coach at the University of West Georgia, where he coached for a year and a half.Following his time at West Georgia, Hickman returned to serving underprivileged youth by starting his own program for skill development, similar to AAU programs.
Hickman has always been involved in the social service field and his mentoring principles should help add to the overall team discipline and maturity, especially as a mentor to the younger players. When asked about his feelings toward the MC Basketball program thus far, Hickman seemed more than content.
“I’m really enjoying it,” Hickman said. “We have some great kids with great talent, in a great program with a great coach, so I’m very excited.”
Hickman said he also views the opportunity to coach under Lambert as a potential learning experience.
“The way he coaches makes me feel like I’m in college again,” Hickman said. “His attention to detail is greater than any coach I’ve been around. Before coaching here, I was mostly accustomed to just developing players, so the way Lambert builds day-by-day toward a successful end result has taught me a lot.”
Both Hernandez and Hickman will serve as great additions to the men’s basketball program, and the Maryville College community is fortunate to welcome them. Joined by their new assistants, the Fighting Scots laced up for their first game of the regular season on Friday, Nov. 15 against 23rd ranked Centre College, losing 75-62. They resume action in their home opener on Thursday, Nov. 21 against Johnson University.