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Levi adds new leadership to Tigers' program
The Alcovy Tigers boys varsity basketball program begins its first year under new head coach Jabari Levi Tuesday night at Newton. - photo by Matt Smith

First-year Alcovy boys varsity basketball coach Jabari Levi has big shoes to fill this season, but he's ready to take on the challenge.

Levi replaces former Alcovy coach Eugene Brown, who left the Tigers for the same position at Southwest Dekalb at the end of last season. Brown was the Tigers' first, and only, coach before Levi. The Tigers' new coach is ready to resurrect an Alcovy program that went 7-18 last season.

"Coach Brown was the coach since the school first began and I’m just the second coach here," Levi said. "I think everyone is excited for a change and a new direction."

Levi joins the Tigers from T.W. Josey High School in Augusta, where he led the Eagles to a region title and two state playoff berths. But, Levi wanted more, deciding to make the move up to Class AAAAAA in hopes of better competition.

Levi said his transition from Richmond County to Newton County has been an easy one thanks to his players.

"The transition has been good," Levi said. "It’s been different. I’m coming from Augusta, so it’s a basketball culture change for me. The kids have been very receptive to everything and they’ve listened to my guidance.

"One major difference I’ve seen is that the guys listen," he said. "Sometimes, in bigger cities like Augusta, kids think they know it all and they don’t want to take coaching. Here, the kids are a lot more receptive to information and knowledge, and I think it’s going to be great for them."

The transition hasn't been without challenges, however, as Levi has had to contend with the overlapping of basketball and football.

"For me, I’m not used to football being as big and kind of fueling the other sports," Levi said. "I’m probably missing seven or eight guys that haven’t even been to the gym yet because they’re on the football field.

"It’s been tough because we haven’t really gotten into our rhythm because we don’t have all of our guys," he said. "It’s an early season challenge, but I think we’ll be able to overcome it once we get everyone in and on the same page."

The first-year head coach said that defense will be a staple of his program this winter.

"I love pressure defense," Levi said. "I don’t want teams to run their offense against us. I want them to be uncomfortable. Everyone practices a certain way, and you may have an option one or an option two, but no one really practices what to do after that. We want people to make decisions after we take away their strengths."

Levi will get the chance to show off the Tigers' defensive game plan Tuesday on the road against Newton. The region contest will be the first for the Tigers this season.

"We want to do better than we did last season," Levi said. "We always want to work to get better. We’re young now, but our future is going to be very bright.

"Early on, it may be rocky and tough to compete, but our team goal is to be ready to finish in the top four in the region by the end of the season and make it to the state playoffs," he said.