Jarvis Smith has coached a little bit of everywhere — in high school, college and even in a professional league.
Smith, who spent the past five seasons at Tattnall Square Academy, will apply that experience toward his next job as East Jackson’s head boys’ coach. Smith was recently hired to take over for David Akin, who stepped down after three seasons.
“I just always feel like every job before, every team before to this point has prepared me for this position … You just take everything you learn and all the players you’ve encountered over the years and the situations and you just try to put it all together to make this the best program it can possibly be,” Smith said.
The coach owns a 185-89 record in high school with two GISA state championships.
Smith coached from 2014 until this year at Tattnall Square Academy, where he led the Trojans to one Elite Eight and two Sweet 16 appearances.
Prior to that, he spent three seasons (2011-2014) as a college head coach at his alma mater, Brewton Parker.
Smith began his career at Robert Toombs Christian Academy, where he went 108-39 and won two GISA state titles during a highly-successful run from 2004-2011 at the private school.
He has long-standing connections to Akin, having worked as his coach for the Gwinnett Majic, a professional development team, from 2009-2011. Before that, Smith played shooting guard alongside Akin in college at Brewton Parker.
Smith played his high school basketball at two schools — first at Lovejoy and then Fellowship Christian Academy in Panama City, Fla.
Smith will take over an East Jackson program that went to the state tournament two years ago, before going 10-16 last season and missing the Class AAA postseason.
“I’m very excited to take over the program,” Smith said. “It’s a new beginning. Kudos to coach Akin who has done a great job the last three years laying down a great foundation for the program.”
Smith said the shape in which Akin left the program and the competition level in Region 8-AAA made the job appealing.
“I just wanted to be somewhere you have an opportunity to build something and play against some great competition night in and night out, and East Jackson presented that,” Smith said.
Smith said the hallmarks of his program will be energy, effort and defense.
“More like we would be a defensive team that plays offense," he said. “I think the first thing coming in, the guys have to understand how important defense and the defensive philosophy is to our program.”
Offensively, Smith aims to get up and down the floor but points to the importance of being able to play well in the half-court as well.
“Because you’re going to come into a situation that it’s not going to be all about running,” Smith said.
Next year’s team will return Makayl Rakestraw, who will be a junior, along with several other juniors and sophomores.
“We look to build upon the last two years and just ride those juniors and get into the feeder program in our middle school and start developing those guys, and just keep this thing rolling and get everybody excited about East Jackson basketball again,” Smith said.
Smith will get started with his new team Tuesday doing summer work in what will be an important off season for the players and their new coach.
“This is a very important time when you’re transitioning into a new program,” he said. “The kids are anxious to figure out how it’s going to go, so it’s a very important time as far as developing relationships and developing those bonds with those young men,” Smith said. “Also, the coaching staff is very important. We have a really solid coaching staff coming back.”
Smith expressed his gratitude for the opportunity at East Jackson, saying that Akin — whom he has known for over 20 years — “was very instrumental” in him getting the job.
“I also just want to thank (East Jackson principal) Mrs. (Chanda) Palmer and (athletic director) Shawn Lindsey,” he said.