A new face will take the helm of the South Jones girl’s basketball team next season as the board approved the hiring of Shameka Thomas as head coach of the Lady Braves this week.
“I’m very excited to be here,” said Thomas. “South Jones is a special place.”
“The reason I was interested, is when I was at the college level, South Jones was one of the schools year-in and year-out I was out there recruiting from. Once I found out that the job was open, I jumped on it and everything seemed to work out,” continued Thomas.
Thomas has had a decorated career as both a coach and player, serving as an assistant coach at Wayne County under Gina Skelton as well as serving as the ninth-grade coach for the Lady War Eagles from 2018 until now. She also served as Special Education Inclusion Teacher at the high school.
“I want to thank the school district at Wayne County. Coach Robert Hathorne, and coach Skelton. It was an exciting opportunity. I choked up when I told the girls because you know, I grew up at Wayne County, I played at Wayne County, won a championship at Wayne County, and now have coached at Wayne County. It was really hard to leave. But, I want to thank coach Skelton especially, and coach Hathorne, because they have always been good to me,” said Thomas.
Thomas graduated from Wayne County in 2007 and was a four-year starter under Skelton. She earned All-State, All-Conference, All-District, and All-Area honors her junior and senior seasons. Thomas finished her career as a Lady War Eagle with a 107-12 record and a 4A State title in 2006-2007. She averaged 18.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game during her senior season while shooting 74% from the free-throw line.
After graduating, she spent her freshman season as a forward at Southeastern Louisiana University.
After her one season at Southeastern Louisiana, Thomas transferred to Delta State University where she played from 2008-2011. She played in 97 games with 40 starts and was a two-time member of the All-Academic Team. Delta State captured the 2008-2009 Gulf South Conference Championship and made an Elite Eight appearance the same year. They were also GSC regular-season Champions three consecutive seasons. While at Delta State, Thomas was a part of an 85-18 record.
Upon graduation, Thomas served as an assistant coach at the college level at the University of Central Arkansas in 2012-2013 and later went back to the university in 17-18. Her skills there included being the Recruiting Coordinator, Post Player Development Coach, and Academic Coordinator. Central Arkansas had a 25-10 record, captured the Southland Conference Record holding opponents to 50.9 pts per game, and secured the first-ever national postseason appearance where they finished runner-up in the Women’s Basketball Invitational Tournament.
From 2013-2017, Thomas served as Assistant Coach and Adjunct Professor of Physical Education at Delta State University. Her skills there were Recruiting Coordinator, Team Travel Coordinator, Post Player Development Coach, Academic Coordinator, and Basketball Camp Director. Delta State captured the 2015-2016 GSC Tournament Championship with a 22-7 record, then went on to make an NCAA South Regional Tournament appearance.
The Lady Statesmen finished first in the nation in scoring defense, only allowing 50.3 points per game. While Thomas served at delta State, they went on to have an overall record of 65-23 with three consecutive 20-win seasons.
Thomas’ education includes: Ed.S – Administration & Supervision, Bachelor of Science – Social Justice & Criminology, and Master of Science - Sports Administration & Human Performance all at Delta State University along with the Alternate Route Program at William Carey University.
Thomas is married to Darrius Thomas and they have one child, Darrius Thomas Jr. who is two-years-old.
“I want to make sure that we build a championship culture,” said Thomas. “By that, I mean not only on the court but in the classroom and in life. I’ve had the opportunity to work with elite head coaches, and this will be my first head coaching job, but the one thing each coach has emphasized is building that championship culture in every aspect. That’s what I want to do as a head coach.”