Alabama State Names Lewis Jackson Head Men’s Basketball Coach

By Off The BASN Sports Wire
Updated: June 17, 2005

Alabama State University LogoMONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama State named Lewis Jackson its 10th head men’s basketball coach Thursday afternoon, catapulting the former player and assistant coach to the top of the program he helped build into a SWAC powerhouse.

“Every athlete dreams of coming home where it all started,” Jackson said. “Today, my dream became a reality.”

Jackson replaces Rob Spivery, who resigned last month to take the head coaching position at Southern University. He was chosen from a group of several qualified candidates, including ASU assistant women’s coach Clayton Harris and Indiana University assistant coach Thad Fitzpatrick.

“We had three great coaches as finalists but Coach Jackson had an outstanding interview and his interview put him over the top,” said ASU athletic director Patrick Carter. “We think he’ll do a good job for us and be very successful.”

Jackson said he was confident going through the process and has a vision for continuing the success of Alabama State basketball.

“I have a plan that I want to carry out and I shared that with (the search committee),” Jackson said. “I guess it was to their liking and I became their guy.”

Jackson has been an assistant at Alabama State since the 2000-01 season and was integral in the team’s success. The Hornets won two SWAC tournament championships and earned NCAA tournament berths after those victories while also appearing in two more conference championship games in that time span.

Now, Jackson has to set his own course outside of Spivery’s shadow.

“We want to continue to get quality players in, ones who can adjust to the style we want to play. Our main thing is playing good, solid defense. That’s the key to winning. It allows you to get some easy baskets on the offensive end,” Jackson said. “It’s tough to follow the last 4-5 years. But it’s a task I’m ready to take on.”

In ascending to the men’s head coaching position, Jackson joins his wife – women’s head coach Freda Freeman-Jackson – atop the ASU basketball family.

“It’s not a big deal. It’s something that sounds good with media,” Jackson said. “But she’s done an excellent job and I have the task of working with our student-athletes. We both have jobs and we’ll both go about taking care of those tasks.”

Jackson started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Alabama State from 1992-95 under the late James Oliver, Sr. In the next five years, he served as a basketball instructor and in 1998, he coached The Challenge – an Amateur Athletic Union team that featured some of the top high school talent in the country including future ASU stars Alvin Pettway and Tyrone Levett.

As strong as his coaching résumé has been, Jackson’s credentials as a player are equally as impressive.

As a high school player at Wetumpka High, Jackson led his team to back-to-back state championship and was chosen the most valuable player of the state tournament in both of those seasons.

Jackson then selected Alabama State to continue his career and became one of the best in school history. After breaking into the starting lineup four games into his freshman seasons, he went on score 2,203 points – now fourth on ASU’s all-time scoring list.

After his senior season in 1984, he was chosen SWAC Player of the Year, the Black College Basketball Player of the Year and a Black College All-American. He was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in the third round and received an invitation to tryout for the United State Olympic basketball team. He would ultimately play professionally in Australia, Canada and the Philippines before retiring in 1990.

In 1999, Jackson was inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame. A year later, he was selected for the Alabama State University Hall of Fame. His number 33 is retired by Alabama State and Wetumpka High retired both numbers Jackson donned – 34 and 35.