Players must “Win the Day” before they can win championships. Win every practice rep. Win in the weight room.
That’s the motto for basketball coach Darcel Austin.
“To be champions,” he said. “You’ve got to work your hardest every single day. Every single day.”
Austin will utilize that mentality at Laurel Hill, where he was named basketball head coach earlier this month.
“I’m extremely excited,” Austin said. “I’ve been put in an extremely good situation. I couldn’t ask for a better one. It’s a good staff – the school, the teachers, the parents. I’ve gotten unlimited support from the community. It’s a dream. It’s a blessing.”
Austin grew up in Samson, Alabama (22 miles northeast of Paxton), and went to Vigor High School in Mobile. He played football and basketball there. After serving over four years in the Army, Austin went back to Alabama to coach recreational and AAU basketball.
He’s currently one of the Directors of Operation for Team Carroll, the ADIDAS-sponsored AAU program of Toronto Raptors forward and Birmingham native DeMarre Carroll. This summer Austin coached a U-17 team and previously coached an eighth grade team.
At Laurel Hill, Austin takes over for Kent Zessin, who will resume duties as AD and head volleyball coach.
“(Darcel) brings a great energy to the game itself, and he’s going to be great for the kids in terms of motivating them and setting high, reachable standards based on his background. The kids really look up to him because of that,” Zessin said. “I think the program is left in good shape. It’s not down in any way. We have five seniors returning so Darcel will set new goals – higher goals.”
Austin said he identifies as a defensive-minded coach. He “loves” for off-ball defenders to be aggressive covering gaps. He also occasionally switches to a full-court press. Offensively, Austin said his teams will run a “motion” style with “a lot of cutting and moving.” Most of the time his team will play four perimeter players with one player in the post or three perimeter players with two players in the post.
“I like for my players to make plays,” Austin said. “I don’t like a robotic style of offense.”
Currently, Laurel Hill has only seven players on its varsity roster, though Austin will consider promoting a player from the junior varsity.
“We have pretty good roster,” Austin said. “The guys are determined. They work hard. I think all seven of my players can play.”