East Jackson didn’t have to look far to find its next boys’ basketball coach.
The school has promoted assistant Tyler Gamble to the head-coaching role, where he’ll take over for Jarvis Smith who resigned after two seasons.
Gamble has served as an assistant for three years at East Jackson, the last two as the program’s junior varsity head coach. Gamble has landed his first head-coaching job at age 28.
“It’s beyond exciting to say the least,” Gamble said. “I know how fortunate I am to be in this position at such a young age and early in my career. I would be remiss if didn’t say how thankful I am for both (East Jackson principal) Mrs. (Chanda) Palmer and (athletic director) coach (Shawn) Lindsey to give me that opportunity.”
He also expressed gratitude to the parents of the program’s players.
“They’ve allowed me to pour into their young men and given me a great opportunity to kind of learn and grow up over the past few years,” he said. “So, they’ve also trusted me and given me a lot of opportunities that a lot of people wouldn’t.”
With Gamble, East Jackson has a coach whose résumé includes two years of playing experience at the Division-I level.
After playing high school basketball at Commerce under Chad Bridges, Gamble spent two seasons (2011-12 and 2012-13) at Georgia State under coach Ron Hunter.
With an interest in coaching, Gamble said he spent his time with the Panthers soaking up as much information as possible from the coaching staff and graduate assistants. He said he would even room with the graduate assistants on road trips.
“So I got to see basketball coaching from a different set of eyes,” Gamble said. “I joke with people a lot of times and said I was more like a player-coach than I was an actual player. I was nowhere near talented enough to play at that level, but I was very fortunate to have that opportunity, and I’m forever grateful for those coaches who allowed me to.”
Gamble now enters his first head-coaching job already extensively familiar with next year’s roster. With only one player returning with significant varsity experience from last year’s 3-15 team, Gamble will essentially inherit the junior varsity team he coached the past two seasons.
“Basically, our roster is now our JV moving up … So, it’s been a pretty smooth transition,” Gamble said.
Also making that transition smoother is the level of responsibility entrusted to him as an assistant coach by his predecessor.
“Coach (Jarvis) Smith, he has been the best to me,” Gamble said. “He put me in situations and allowed me to do things that most don’t. He has helped me the past two years since he’s been here and really kind of prepared me and groomed me.”
Gamble said he’s excited to move forward as the head coach of a program with players he’s already invested in extensively.
“It’s fun to see it come at a time where the guys I’ve been coaching and pouring into for the past two years, they’re making their transition up to the varsity level,” he said. “So it’s been really truly a blessing to see the timing and how it all worked out and all the pieces that had to fall right, and they fell just perfectly.”