John Darnell
John Darnell
 John Darnell will enter his 13th season of coaching this year as he takes over the Union High School Yellowjacket basketball program.

Darnell coached at Lake High School last year. He has also coached at Kemper County where his team won a state championship and Enterprise High School.

He replaces Josh Luckett who left Union after three seasons to become the head coach boys basketball coach at Northwest Rankin High School.

Darnell is familiar with Union which competed in Region 4-2A with Lake. Also in the region is Philadelphia, Scott Central and Newton High School.

“Union was very solid last year,” Darnell said. “The region was very balanced. Newton and Philadelphia were the teams to beat. But Scott Central stayed below the radar and almost won the region tournament. Lake was young but we competed. We were young and just couldn’t finish some key region games. But they will be better this year.”

Darnell is originally from Dekalb. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi.

He has had a chance to practice with his new team.

“I took the job in June,” Darnell said. “We practiced two or three weeks and played four games.

“I thought we looked good with our starting five. P.J. Gage and J.T. Vance are coming back and they will be our leaders. We have other good players.  What we are looking for now is to develop some of younger players. We are going to need depth on the bench, especially in the region games in January and February. I think our future is bright, especially toward the end of the season.

“When the post season comes, you really want to win your region tournament. If you don’t, you have to travel to teams in North Mississippi and that’s a tough road,” Darnell said.

Darnell is looking forward to the upcoming basketball season but he understands he will get most of his athletes after football season is over.

“In a small school, you have to be patient,” Darnell said. “Our season starts after football season ends One year, the season didn’t start until after December because our football team was playing for a state championship. Our time comes.”