There are dream jobs out there for everyone and many people land their dream jobs every day. On Thursday, former St. Stanislaus head basketball coach, was given his dream job when the University of Southern Mississippi named him as the new head men's basketball coach.
Ladner, who played for USM, coached the Rock-a-chaws for 20 seasons before taking steps up the ladder toward this dream announcement.
During his press conference at USM on Thursday Ladner commented, "My love for this school goes without saying. To have an opportunity to come back here and be a part of it and coach basketball here, that is the greatest thing in the world. This is a destination job for Jay Ladner, where as other people may not see it that way. I love the place, I know what it is about and I look forward to getting it back in its rightful place in the hierarchy of basketball."
Ladner, a native of Picayune, grew up playing basketball in the Hattiesburg area graduating from Oak Grove High School. He later played for USM under the school's all-time winningest coach in M.K. Turk and was a guard on the Golden Eagles' 1987 NIT championship team.
After he graduated from USM in 1988, he worked briefly for Merck Pharamceuticals before embarking on a coaching career that has simply become legendary in Mississippi and beyond.
Ladner took over a SSC basketball team in 1991 that had not been to the state tournament since 1945.
Ladner followed a process and motto that can be described as "God, Family, School" and built a foundation of success for SSC.
He went on to amass a record of 511-189 in 21 seasons of high school basketball in Mississippi which included 20 seasons at SSC and one season at Oak Grove High School.
At SSC, he brought the Rocks to 10 state tournaments and claimed the 2011 Class 4A state championship.
After his one season at Oak Grove, he took over the Jones County Junior College Bobcats. In his first season at JCJC, he went 17-8 before he brought national acclaim to the Mississippi ranks. In 2014 with just one full season of recruiting, he went 28-5 and won the NJCCA national title. The win mark set a record for wins in a season while also becoming the lowest seeded team in NJCCA history to win the national championship. That title remains the only national title in Mississippi JUCO history.
Just three weeks after winning the national title, he was named the head coach at Southeastern Louisiana University where he has been the last five seasons.
He has improved the win total each year at SELA and currently sports a 76-88 overall record in Division I.
At SELA, he led the Lions to the 2018 Southland Conference regular season championship with a 22-12 record and a berth in the NIT.
Ladner and his family enjoy a long history with USM that extends before Jay playing there.
His father, J. Larry Ladner, joined the country's first Department of Coaching and Sports Administration at USM in 1971 after a spectacular 11-year coaching career at Picayune Memorial High School. He retired from USM after a 20-year teaching career at on the Hattiesburg campus.
Jay Ladner's announcement as the new head basketball coach was made on his father's 82nd birthday. No doubt, it will be the most memorable birthday present the elder Ladner has ever been given.
Ladner takes over a USM squad that finished the 2018-19 season with a 20-13 record and trip to the Roman College Basketball Invitational. The Golden Eagles lost the first round game 90-68 to the Longwood Lancers.