Justin Brown has been there and done that.
He’s won state championships, he’s coached all-staters, he’s coached next-level players, and he’s a two-time Oklahoma Coaches Association Coach of the Year.
He’s a well-established and highly-regarded basketball coach.
Brown is coming to Sequoyah with a concrete solid foundation.
Hired last week to fill a void left by legendary head coach Larry Callison, Brown’s the perfect fit for a program that over the years is certainly unique in it’s sheer volume of wins and number of state championships.
“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” Sequoyah Athletic Director Marcus Crittenden said. “We needed someone that could hit the ground running, and Coach Brown is that guy.”
Brown led Pawnee to a Class 2A State Championship in 2009. He did the same on the 4A level in 2015 at Locust Grove, which was the first in the school’s history.
He’s won 337 games over a 19-year career, has a 64.1 winning percentage, coached a combined nine Oklahoma Coaches Association and Oklahoma Girls Basketball Coaches Association All-Staters, and he’s had more than a handful of his players go on to play at the collegiate level, including Rylie Torrey, who played one year at Northeastern State and is now at Oral Roberts.
The Lady Indians are getting a coach that has produced, plain and simple.
And Brown is walking into a ready-to-win-now scenario.
“That’s what makes the job fun and intriguing is the fact that you’re going to have a chance to be there,” Brown said. “Year in, year out you’re going to be one of the top teams in the class and you’re going to have a chance to compete for it. That’s what a coach wants is to just have a chance. I’ve got good kids here. I’ve been around them for two or three days and they seem to be great kids. I’ve also got some good help here, so I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
“You don’t ever want to take any steps back and Coach Brown has a proven track record of success,” Crittenden said. “He’s had some very good teams through the years. Coach Brown is a coach who has been there. He’s lifted a couple of gold balls, he’s lifted a silver ball.”
The Lady Indians return four players who had starts on last year’s squad, including one of the premier players anywhere in the state in senior-to-be Lexy Keys. Others back include Lana Gass, Jessica Mackey, Jaide Long, Jordan Gann, Alexsyah Goudeau, Baylee Davis and Daryl Hooper, who missed all of last season with an ACL injury.
As a program, Sequoyah has captured six state titles, three of those coming under Callison in 2015, 2017 and 2018. The Lady Indians were two wins shy of three-peating last season and finished 23-5 with a start-to-finish No. 1 ranking in 3A by OSSAARankings.com.
For Brown, there’s also a connection with current assistant coach Grant Callison. Callison was hired by Brown as the boys head coach at Locust Grove in 2016 after Callison served for one year as an assistant.
“It certainly didn’t hurt [for them to have a connection],” Crittenden said. “There’s definitely an extra familiarity there with those ties, and Coach Larry Callison certainly thinks a lot of Justin and vice versa. Coach Brown has his own ways of doing things. He’s not going to be a clone of Coach Callison, nor should he be. He’s his own guy and that’s what we want him to be. We’re excited to have him here.”
“They’re great people,” Brown said of the Callisons. “Larry obviously does a great job. He’s got three state championships here. There’s a lot of guys that coach a whole career and don’t get to a state tournament five times, much less win five. There’s definitely some big shoes to fill there and I have a lot of respect for him and what he’s done, here and everywhere he’s been.”
Brown’s decision to leave Locust Grove wasn’t easy. He was also the school’s athletic director for each of his eight years there.
“I left a place that I really enjoyed,” he said. “I left some good people behind, and those people were great to me. But at the same time this was just one of those things for me that if I’m going to continue to coach basketball it was just something I needed to look at. I decided it would be a good opportunity.”
It's an opportunity for Brown to add on to an already impressive resume and for the torch to continue burning brightly for a Lady Indians' program that stands among the state's elite.
It's a perfect fit.