CENTER, Mo. | The Mark Twain boys basketball team will enter a new era next season with a new head coach.
Jared Akright has been promoted to the head coach position after spending three seasons as an assistant coach for the Tigers. He succeeds Cody McCann, who stepped down recently, and will continue his current role as athletic director.
“After our interviews, we believe Jared is the right man for the job,” McCann said. “He already has a relationship with the athletes and knowledge of them, the school and the community … We believe his previous teaching, coaching and military experiences and background will benefit the program and the athletes.”
McCann was Mark Twain's head coach for the past four seasons and had a combined 35-53 record. His best season was in 2018-19, when the Tigers finished 12-12.
Akright said he has learned a lot from being an assistant coach with both Mark Twain's boys basketball and football teams.
“I have seen from the hard work and dedication it takes to be a head coach,” Akright said. “Being under Coach McCann in basketball has prepared me to take on this head coaching position. The best thing I have learned is that there are going to be ups and downs throughout the season, but that cannot change your coaching philosophy or your passion for coaching the players.”
Akright will take over a Mark Twain team that finished 4-20 last season and will not return any of it's starters for the 2020-21 season, as six seniors have graduated. That includes EMO Conference First Team selection Preston Eckler.
Although the Tigers will have a young team going into next season, Akright is excited to take over the program.
“I am excited to push these players and see what this next group of players can do at Mark Twain,” Akright said. “I know there is going to be some competition for playing time, which is great. I know there can be great things from this group, but they have to believe it and see it in themselves.”
Akright said his main goal is to held mold these young men in a positive manner as head coach.
“I want to help make them better basketball players, students and young men that will have a positive impact on our society,” Akright said. “I will emphasize hard work, discipline, dedication, mental and physical toughness and family. All of these attributes make a good team, a great team.”
The plan for Akright is to lay the foundation to a winning team and the wins will take care of itself.
“I have no goal for how many wins, conference championships, district championships or state championships,” Akright said. “Do I want all those things? Of course. My goal for the season is to have the players buy in and give me 100 percent effort and attitude in everything we do.”
Akright would like to have some sort of an offseason program, but will let the public health situation dictate what that will look like.
“Even if the shootouts are canceled, I would be happy just to be able to get the players in the weight room and gym at school,” Akright said. “If for some reason we are not allowed to do anything over the summer, then I will adjust my plans, but summer will not be taken off.”
The community has been really supportive of Akright ascending to the head coach position for Mark Twain's boys basketball program.
“They are all excited for me to take on this position,” Akright said. “I am very fortunate that my family has always supported me in everything I have done.”