Photo by Barry BurlesonKenzaki Jones is taking over the reins of the Holly Springs boys basketball program.
Jones new coach of Hawks
Kenzaki Jones is filling a coaching seat that comes with high expectations. But that’s perfectly OK with him.
He was recently named the new head boys basketball coach at Holly Springs High School. He replaces Sylvester Kilgore, who resigned from his position as head coach after seven seasons.
The Hawks have made five straight trips to Jackson and finished as Class 3A runners-up the past two seasons. They return plenty of experience and talent for 2019-2020.
“I am fully aware of the rich tradition in basketball at Holly Springs High School, and it’s a challenge I accept,” Jones said. “We will work hard every day with the ultimate goal being the state championship. Yes, there is pressure associated with this job, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Jones has served as an assistant girls and boys coach the past two seasons at Olive Branch. The Conquistadors won a state title in 2017-2018 and finished as runners-up last year. The Lady Conquistadors claimed the state crown last season.
Before that, he was the head coach at Potts Camp and also previously coached at his alma mater, Senatobia, and Coldwater, which made the state semi-finals in 2007.
He graduated from Senatobia High School in 1996 and played on a state championship basketball team that season. He then played football at Mississippi State from 1996-2000.
“I’ve been a part of successful programs,” Jones said. “I have high expectations.
“And I’m looking forward to working with a great group of guys at Holly Springs High School – a wealth of talent.
“Coach Kilgore did a wonderful job. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. I just want to enhance what they’re already doing well. You have to figure out what’s best for the talent you have.
“This will be a senior-led team that knows how to compete at the highest level.”
The Hawks will once again play a very competitive schedule, versus the likes of Center Hill, Southaven, Potts Camp and Byhalia. Plus, they will play in the Lighthouse Classic at Corinth, the Doc Vandiver Classic at Baldwyn, the Tangle on the Trail at Pontotoc and the West Kentucky Hoops Classic in Princeton, Ky.
“It’s nothing new to me,” Jones said, “as far as being on the big stage. Being at Olive Branch (a large school) and the other programs has helped prepare me, plus I was blessed to be a D-1 athlete at Mississippi State.”
He knows Marshall County is a county that loves its basketball. And he knows Holly Springs fans are crazy about their Hawks.
“I appreciate the passion,” Jones said. “We will represent the black and gold tradition to the best of our ability. All kids need love and guidance and I look forward to providing that too. I believe I can help mold these young men into becoming positive citizens.”
The Hawks won back-toback state titles in 2004 and 2005 under head coach Naylond Hayes.
Marcus Autry, athletic director for the Holly Springs School District, said he is excited about having Jones on board to lead the basketball program.
“We’re glad he’s a Hawk,” Autry said. “He has 18 years coaching experience, and he’s worked with some great coaches (including Jason Thompson at Olive Branch and the late Wert Spiva at Coldwater).
“We know he is bringing a lot of experience to our program and we believe he is what we need to continue what Coach Kilgore has built.”