By Robert Wilson
Chris Love won one state championship as Velma Jackson’s boys basketball coach and finished runner-up twice in his five years at the Northeast Madison County school.
Now, Love will try to win a state championship at Class 6A Germantown.
Love has been named the new boys basketball coach at Germantown, replacing Ed Bradley, who will remain at the school as a teacher. Bradley was Germantown’s coach for six seasons.
The first step for Love isn’t winning a state title. He takes over a program that has never had a winning season since the school opened in the 2011-2012 school year.
“I believe there is a lot of potential at Germantown,” Love said. “I know they haven’t had a lot of success in the past, but it is a growing school. I loved it at Velma, and it was difficult to leave, but I wanted to see what I could at a 6A school and against the best competition in the state.”
“We are extremely excited to have Coach Love as our new boys basketball coach,” Germantown athletic director Gregg Perry said. “Coach Love brings a level of experience, success and toughness needed to move us forward in our boys basketball program.”
Love knows all about winning, first from his father, Lewis Love, who won 607 games, one state title and three runner-up finishes in his career at Amanda Elzy, Velma Jackson, Canton, and Pearl before retiring in 2003. Chris Love played for his dad at Canton High and won a state championship as a junior in 1997, finished runner-up as a sophomore in 1996 and reached the semifinals as a senior in 1998.
Love, a Canton High, Holmes Community College and Jackson State graduate, worked in the technology department at the Canton School District before becoming an assistant coach for four years at Canton High under Melvin Gillum and was head coach for three seasons at Canton. Then Love took over at Velma Jackson. He had an 80-30 record – a 72.7 winning percentage – in those five seasons.
His state championship team – his top six players were all underclassmen – finished 25-6 and won its last 19 games to capture the MHSAA Class 3A state title in 2019. He was 28-6 and lost to St. Andrew’s in the 3A state championship game in 2020. Love guided Velma Jackson to a 17-11 record and lost to Pine Grove for the 2A state title this past season.
“My dad would always say, ‘When you think you have done enough do more,’’ Love said. “He frequently encourages me to never get complacent with what I know about the game of basketball and advises me to keep grasping for knowledge about the game. In his words, ‘Don’t ever think you have learned enough.’ Melvin Gillum taught me patience and to develop my own coaching style. In his words, ‘Be you.’’’
Love inherits three returning starters from last year’s team, which finished 7-15 last season.