There will be some pressure trying to replace two of South Carolina’s top girls high school basketball coaches, but Keturah Jackson and Megan Assey welcome the opportunity.
Both Jackson and Assey were introduced as coaches at their new schools last week. Jackson is replacing Debbie Stroman at Lower Richland, while Assey takes over for Anne Long at Spring Valley. Stroman and Long combined to win 1,333 games and 15 state championships.
“People try to put pressure on you. I just look at it as next phase in my coaching career,” Jackson said. “I just want to apply what I learned so far in my coaching career, and apply it in a new setting.”
“Anne Long is the epitome of success both on and off the court, so there will be pressure following her. It is like following Pat Summit or Coach K,” Assey said. “But I welcome the pressure. The players there are willing to commit and know what it takes to be excellent. That is the type of pressure you want.”
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Jackson initially hesitated in applying for the opening at Lower Richland. It wasn’t that she didn’t think she was qualified to replace Stroman, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to continue to build the momentum at White Knoll.
Under Jackson, the Timberwolves made the school’s first playoff appearance in 2015.
As a former standout at Dreher, Jackson is familiar with the Diamond Hornets program and played them on numerous occasions.
“I never imagined coaching there,” Jackson said of LR. “I remember how excited it would be that whole day leading to when we would play at Lower Richland. I had a lot of close friends on the team I played AAU with, so it was an exciting experience.”
Both coaches said their previous coaching stops and various coaches they have been under have prepared them for this moment. Jackson credits her two college coaches at Duke, Gail Goestenkors and Joanne P. McCallie, and takes a lot from the principles of former UCLA coach John Wooden.
Some of Assey’s influences included former Clemson coach Christine McKinney and former Charleston Southern coach Julie Goodenough, who is now a coach at Abilene Christian. Assey was a grad assistant at Clemson and assistant coach at CSU before head coaching stops at Brookland-Cayce and River Bluff high schools.
“Every step in the journey has been part of the process and impacted my coaching career,” Assey said. “I can’t put a price on invaluable experiences and being around some tremendous people I have come across along the way.”
Both coaches plan to stay busy this summer as they build relationships with their new players. Of the two squads, Spring Valley has the most new faces as it lost seven players from last year’s team, which won its second straight Class 4A championship.
“It will be a little of a rebuilding process, seven seniors are gone,” Assey said. “But I intend on hitting the ground running and continue to build relationships on a personal level.”