Video: Breaking down the final High School Top 25
COY Wes Swift and Jonesboro finish No. 5 after winning Arkansas state title.
boys basketball coach Wes Swift was a self-proclaimed "underachiever" as a high school player.
"Coach Swift would have cut Wes Swift as a player," Swift said. "I definitely didn't live up to my potential because I cut too many corners."
Coach Swift has vowed to never let his players do the same and it's a big reason the 47-year-old is the 2016-17 MaxPreps National Coach of the Year.
With four battle-tested senior starters, including Wendy's State Player of the Year Marquis Eaton
, along with ultra-talented junior Desi Sills
, a 6-foot-1 guard committed to Arkansas, Jonesboro could have probably coasted to a banner year.
But Swift made sure the Golden Hurricane hit their plateau and at 32-0, a 14th state championship and a No. 5 final national ranking by MaxPreps — the highest in school history — they did just that.
"The keys to our success were senior leadership, overall talent and a willingness to work," Swift said. "That's a pretty good combination."
An unbeatable one evidently.
Jonesboro didn't pad its record against cupcakes either.
The Golden Hurricane knocked off teams from four outside states — Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee — including Missouri state champion Vashon (St. Louis) and semifinalist Kickapoo (Springfield).
Perhaps most impressive was a 74-57 win over a very talented El Dorado squad (28-5) in the state 6A final. It culminated a special season — only six games were decided by single digits — and the careers for the seniors, who never lost a conference or home game.
"They showed up every day and put in the work every day, every season," Swift said. "They set the bar for the younger players."
This was the fourth state title and second at Jonesboro for Swift, who also won at Hughes
(2001) and Lonoke
(2008). The Hurricane have reached the state final in five of eight seasons, winning also in 2014.
When informed of his national award by e-mail, Swift said he was moved immediately to tears. The emotion, he said, were partially derived from the recent death of former Jonesboro coach Barry Pruitt, who led the team to a state title in 2007.
"Winning a state title with Coach Pruitt in our mind and heart was extra special," Swift said.
Swift also reflected on all the people who had guided him over the years, the journey of his life and for this particular group who truly reached their potential.
How can you get any better than perfect?
"This is not something I've even dreamed about," Swift said. "It gives me that much more reason to be thankful for our guys. They were and are an extremely special group of young men."Past MaxPreps National Coaches of the Year
2016 – Pat Donnelly, U-D Jesuit (Detroit, Mich.)
2015 – Sam Duane Jr., Corona del Sol (Tempe, Ariz.)
2014 – Gary McKnight, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
2013 – Quincy Lewis, Lone Peak (Highland, Utah)
2012 – Danny Henderson, Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas)
2011 – Bob Hurley, St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.)
2010 – Ed Azzam, Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Head coach Wes Swift and Jonesboro celebrate their win in the Arkansas Class 6A state championship game.
Photo: Ted McClenning