Photo by Hays Collins

By Robert Wilson
Photos by Hays Collins

            Former Jackson Prep boys basketball coach Gerald Austin knew even back in the 1990s a 5-foot-9 backup point guard had the potential to be a successful coach.

            A quarter of a century later that backup point guard – Michael McAnally – won his 600th career high school basketball game.

            McAnally led his Jackson Prep girls basketball team to a 57-27 victory over Humphreys Academy Tuesday night in the first round of the MAIS Overall Tournament at Prep in Flowood.

            With Tuesday’s win, McAnally has won 600 games – 387 girls and 213 boys – and four state titles, one Overall title and two Overall runner-up finishes in 21 seasons. He has won 170 girls games in eight seasons at Prep. He has coached at Huntington, La. (2001-2003), Copiah Academy (2003-2006), East Rankin (2006-2014) and Prep. McAnally has had only six losing seasons (four boys and two girls) in a combined 30 seasons (16 girls and 14 boys).

            “Michael was a tremendous leader when he was in high school,” said Austin, who won 165 games and three Overall titles in six seasons at Prep and was a part of six state championships and two Overall titles in 19 seasons as an assistant at Gulfport High. “Even though he was a back point guard, he was always giving good input when we had timeouts. I’m not surprised how successful he has become as a coach. Michael worked our camps and worked so well with our kids. We won the Overall his senior year and he was an important part of it.”

            “I have always held Coach Austin in the highest regard,” McAnally said. “He was a great mentor to me as my head coach when I played at Prep and was someone I would turn to in the beginning of my coaching career. I always had a great admiration for Coach Austin’s humility and the way he carried himself. That is something that shaped me early in my coaching career.”

            McAnally won his fourth state title Saturday when Prep defeated Hartfield for the MAIS Class 6A state championship, his second in the past three seasons. He won his Overall title in 2010 when he led East Rankin to a 35-2 season. He can tie his career mark for most victories in a season in Prep’s next game. Prep, 34-2, plays host to Central Hinds Friday at 6 p.m. at Prep in the quarterfinals. The winner advances to next week’s semifinals at Mississippi College in Clinton.

            McAnally was quick so deflect the attention of No. 600 from himself and give credit to others.

            “The number 600 means I’ve doing it a long time and have had the fortune to coach two varsity teams for nine of my 21 years as a head coach,” McAnally said. “It also means I’ve been blessed with a bunch of good players and good assistants at good schools who have helped me reach that number. There are so many people involved in a milestone like that. I’ve been very blessed in this profession.”

            “Michael will tell you that all those wins are due to the fact that he has had a bunch of good players,” Prep athletic director Will Crosby said. “There is certainly some truth to that, but it also speaks to his ability to develop and prepare those players. His attention to detail is as good as any coach I’ve been around. If his team loses, it won’t be because they were unprepared.”