Derrick Willis was officially hired on Monday, April 13th to lead the Bay High Tigers basketball team following the resignation of Randy McCrory who had led the Tigers for the last eight seasons.
Willis, a 2005 graduate of Saint Stanislaus and prepped under Jay Ladner, spent the past two seasons leading the Hancock Hawks in Kiln.
Willis commented, “I absolutely loved coaching at Hancock. It is a very desirable location being in Class 6A and on the Coast. However, I felt this was a good move for me coming to Bay High. I am coming back to my hometown, coaching in the division that I played in, and getting the opportunity to coach with family. The staff at Hancock is extremely loyal, the administration was outstanding to work for and the players’ work ethic was extremely strong. But, in the end, this was coming home for me and an opportunity that I did not want to go by.”
During his two seasons at Hancock, Willis had the Hawks in positions to win key games and his squads were exciting to watch. Over two seasons, Willis turned in a record of 19-42 while playing in a gauntlet of a division with the likes of Gulfport and Harrison Central.
He inherits a Bay High squad that averaged 18 wins a year under McCrory and was a mainstay in the postseason over the last decade.
Willis added, “The first thing we will have to do once we get past this pandemic and the effects surrounding it is we will have to reestablish our expectations. Teams do not graduate multiple year starters like Elijah Curry, Kyren Galloway, CJ Loftin, and Khalil Bell and get better. But, that is what we will be working hard to do. Ultimately, we want to reestablish ourselves and achieve the opportunity to get back to the state title game.”
Willis has a staff in place that includes his cousin, Dmitry Johnson, Daron Bell, and Willie Moody. Willis continued, “Once we get the all-clear to move forward, it will be fun. Coaching in 4A will be just as intense and just as talented as coaching in 6A. The staff is established and we will coach the entire program seventh through 12th grade. We are excited about getting started.”
Willis graduated from SSC in 2005 after playing his entire career for Jay Ladner who is now the head men’s coach at The University of Southern Mississippi. Willis earned his bachelor’s degree in 2009 from USM and is currently enrolled in a masters degree program at USM and is slated to graduate in May 2021.
Willis’ first coaching job was at Oak Grove in 2009-10. He stayed there for three years before moving to Gulfport Central Middle School where he coached from 2013-15. He moved up to Gulfport High School under Owen Miller from 2015-18 before spending the last two seasons as a head coach at Hancock.