Former South Lake and Leesburg coach Marcel Thomas is back on the Lake County basketball scene as head coach for Lake Minneola – one of Central Florida’s most successful programs.
He replaced Freddie Cole who started the program when Lake Minneola opened in 2011 and coached the Hawks to a 2013-14 state runner-up finish three years later.
Cole left coaching and teaching to have more time to devote to his ministry and family. He opened a church in the Four Corners area, near Davenport and South Clermont, in July.
Thomas coached Leesburg to a 2011 state championship and 2012 state runner-up finish. He left following the 2012-13 season and coached for two years at All Saints Academy of Winter Haven before serving as athletic director at Oak Park Middle School in Leesburg last year.
“Lake County feels like home,” Thomas said. “I worked with Freddie at Lake Minneola this summer and just kind of fell into this. I’m happy I fell into it.”
Lake Minneola was 28-4, 24-5 and 21-8 over the past three years but returns no players with any real varsity game experience.
“We’re going to be inexperienced, but we’re inexperienced with a large group of juniors,” Thomas said. “I’m anticipating this being a learning year but we’ll be able to compete.”
Buddy Collings is a senior sports writer covering high schools for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.