BOYS BASKETBALL: Memorial coach Coleman accepts Summer Creek job

Published 9:39 pm Thursday, April 26, 2018

Summer Creek High School has gained a second Port Arthur Memorial head coach in the same year.

Just 47 days after leading Memorial to its first state basketball championship, Kenneth Coleman has verbally accepted the head coaching position at the Humble ISD school that’s just more than a mile away from his home. The Port Arthur native’s decision to leave Memorial after three seasons at the helm comes more than two months after Kenny Harrison left the school to become head coach and athletic coordinator at Summer Creek.

Coleman, 57, said he hadn’t signed any contract yet, but did notify Memorial and Port Arthur ISD officials of his decision, wanting to work in the same area where he lives with his wife Trina and young son Joshua.

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“When I spoke to the kids [his players] today, I told them that I came to Port Arthur recognizing what Port Arthur already had to be successful,” Coleman said Thursday night. “I knew what kids we had and I knew the people. I didn’t play the game.”

Coleman reiterated those comments he made Tuesday when he gave an impassioned speech of about 10 minutes to a group of Memorial students who witnessed Thailan Wesley’s and Jamyus Jones’ signings to Lamar State College Port Arthur.

Asked if he was thinking about the Summer Creek job during his comments, Coleman said: “I wasn’t processing that in my mind at all.”

Port Arthur ISD Superintendent Mark Porterie said Coleman accomplished his mission of leading the Titans to the UIL 5A state championship, the city’s first since Lincoln won the 1995 4A title behind future NBA star Stephen Jackson.

“We definitely are appreciative of coach Coleman,” Porterie said. “He came at a time when we really needed him the most. We needed his expertise, his dedication, and he performed that. He did what he set out to do, and that’s win a state championship.”

Coleman, a 1978 Lincoln graduate, had been an assistant under former Memorial coach David Green at North Shore, in Houston’s Galena Park ISD, and helped the Mustangs win the 5A title behind current University of Texas point guard Kerwin Roach in 2014.

He replaced Travis Williams at Memorial in August 2015, just as teacher in-service had commenced. The first season didn’t go so smoothly for Coleman and the Titans despite finishing second in District 21-6A, losing in the first round to South Houston to finish 13-17.

“The first year is always tough,” Coleman said. “There’s the buy-in, and you have seniors [coming from a recent coaching system]. We didn’t have an offseason my first year. The offseason is where you gain ground.”

That, the Titans did. He also had a talented sophomore group in 2015-16 that included Darion Chatman, Tyler Guidry and Wesley to help him build the foundation.

Memorial shared the 2017 District 22-5A title with Beaumont Central and improved to 27-6, bowing out to eventual state runner-up Fort Bend Marshall in a controversial finish to a 5A Region III quarterfinal at North Shore.

The Titans gained Jones from Sabine Pass last summer, adding to Coleman’s defense-into-offense system. Memorial won its own James Gamble Classic and went on to finish the season on a 26-game winning streak, go 34-5 overall and beat Justin Northwest 75-69 in the state final at San Antonio’s Alamodome on March 10.

“Anytime you believe to be a champion, you become a champion,” Coleman said.

At Summer Creek, Coleman will join fellow PA native Harrison, who took the helm of the Bulldogs’ football team after nine seasons leaving the Titans. Summer Creek was 11-22 and 7-8 in 21-6A, narrowly missing the 6A playoffs.

Coleman said Harrison was on the search committee for the basketball vacancy but was ultimately offered the job by Summer Creek’s principal. Coleman said he wasn’t exactly sure of how Humble ISD’s hiring process goes, but teaching and coaching positions are typically approved by a school board.

An attempt to reach Harrison for comment Thursday evening was unsuccessful.

Porterie has not established a timeline for hiring Coleman’s successor, but understood the championship coach’s reason for leaving.

“We cannot fault a man for wanting to be with his family,” Porterie said. “I applaud him for being a family man.”

Meanwhile, Coleman still feels a part of Port Arthur in his upcoming transition.

“I’ll always be a Port Arthur guy,” he said. “There’s no place like home.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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