Former LHS star Drake to coach Meridian basketball

Meridian Community College President Dr. Scott Elliott (left) announced last week that former LaFayette High standout Cedric Drake will be the Eagles next men’s basketball coach. (Photo: courtesy of Meridian Community College)

Former LaFayette High School multi-sport standout Cedric Drake has been named the next head coach of the Meridian Community College Eagles. Drake also starred for the Eagles, helping lead them to an NJCAA Region 23 championship during his playing days. Dr. Scott Elliott, MCC President, announced the hire on Thursday.

“Cedric has been a winner all his life, on and off the court, and I expect him to have that kind of positive influence in building a solid program at MCC,” Elliott said. “He is a young man of great character, and he’ll be an excellent role model for our student-athletes.”

Drake was a standout football and basketball player at LHS from 1994-98, and was actually recruited to play football in college. However, he elected to continue his athletic career on the hardwood, starring for the Eagles. He continued his playing career at Auburn University-Montgomery, helping lead the team to a national tournament berth in both his junior and senior seasons.

After departing from AUM, he embarked on a highly successful coaching career in the high school ranks.

Drake served as head coach and athletic director at Taylor Road Academy in Montgomery, leading his teams to area championships from 2006-08 and a regional championship and state runner-up finish in 2009. His teams qualified for the state Final Four three times in his career at Taylor Road.

He coached at Prattville Christian Academy during the 2009-10 season, helping the team to a regional title, and has also served at the head coach of the Montgomery Job Corps, helping the team qualify for the national tournament.

“I am really excited about returning to MCC and doing all that I can to build a consistently competitive program,” Drake said. “My first goal is for my players to earn a degree. MCC has a strong academic reputation, so any player I recruit is going to benefit form a first-class college education.”

Drake replaces Nathan Courtney, who left to become coach at Highland Community College in Illinois. Drake becomes the Eagles’ fifth head coach in the past four years. Courtney spent just one season at MCC, leading the team to a 10-18 mark. His hiring came just weeks after Dale Brown was named Jeff Walker’s successor. However, Brown departed for a job at Clark-Atlanta. Walker also spent just one season with the Eagles, going 18-10, after replacing longtime coach and LaFayette alumnus George Brooks.

Drake played under Brooks, who left the school in 2009 to join Coach Rick Stansbury’s staff at Mississippi State University. Brooks was the lone holdover when Stansbury left the school at the end of last season. New MSU coach Rick Ray kept Brooks on his new staff.

Both Drake and Brooks played for legendary LHS coach John T. Woody, and over the years several LaFayette athletes have continued their playing careers at MCC. “I’m really happy he (Drake) has gotten this opportunity,” Woody said about his former player. “He is a really good coach, and he has that passion and desire and he is really dedicated to the game. He really deserves this and I know he will do a good job.”

Drake is excited to get started and hopes to bring stability to a team that has been lacking in that area since Brooks departure. “We had the best junior college team in the state of Mississippi (and finished fifth in the NJCAA national tournament) when I played at MCC,” Drake said. “I don’t see any reason why we can’t get to that level again. It will be a matter of recruiting talented players and coaching them to out-hustle our opponents on both ends of the court and play well as a unit. If I didn’t believe I could do that, then I wouldn’t take the job.”

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