COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton High School found its new head boys basketball coach in-house by promoting Barry Browner from his assistant role.
It’s been a whirlwind for Browner the past few days as, after Charlemagne Gibbons announced his departure on March 14, Shannon Buff named Browner the interim head coach.
But as of Friday morning, the interim tag has been removed, and Browner is officially the head coach.
“It’s been exciting and the kids are excited,” Browner said. “I’m excited to lead this program. Dr. Buff has entrusted me to do it, and I really appreciate it.”
Buff echoed the same sentiment about her faith in Browner.
“For me, being able to promote from within is exciting,” Buff said. “Coach Browner is loyal, he is hardworking and he is loved by the kids and the faculty and staff at Newton High School. There’s no doubt in my mind that he is perfect for this job.”
Browner had served as former Rams’ head coach Charlemagne Gibbons’ assistant the previous four years before Gibbons announced his departure from Newton to lead the Gainesville Red Elephants’ program.
Browner is appreciative of his time as an assistant for Newton.
“Having the opportunity to coach with coach Gibbons was a great opportunity to learn,” Browner said. “There are some things I thought I knew, but now coach Gibbons reaffirmed and he was a great mentor through the process.”
Right after Gibbons announced he was leaving to become head coach for Gainesville, he stated his wishes for the Rams to promote from within.
“My prayer would be that they would look internally,” Gibbons previously told The Covington News. “The staff is one of the reasons we’ve been so good. I hope they look inside the program to keep the tradition of what we’ve started.”
Browner has coached since 2007. Prior to joining Gibbons’ staff, Browner had stints at Dunwoody, Stone Mountain, Lithonia and Grayson.
All of his experiences in the past help Browner feel ready for the task at hand.
“The program is in a really good place,” Browner said. “I just want to continue to move the needle and help the program continue to grow. We’ve been great for four years and we want to continue to go forward.”
In addition to Gibbons’ departure, the Rams will graduate 5-star Stephon Castle, 4-star Jakai Newton as well as MJ Whitlock and Ashton Pennamon.
But Browner’s optimism is high because of the underclassmen coming up.
For instance, the Rams’ junior varsity team went 17-0 this past season, won the Gwinnett County championship — which, according to Browner, is rare for a team outside of Gwinnett County to do — and claimed the NewRock Championship for the second year in a row.
Browner wants to do more to help develop the younger players throughout their Rams’ careers.
“I always make the analogy to them that JV basketball is like driving on a regular road when varsity basketball is like driving on the expressway,” Browner said. “The game is going to be a little bit faster, guys are going to be a little bit bigger and a little bit tougher.”
Now, the reins of the Rams’ program is in Browner’s hands.
The past four years, he’s been an assistant on two Elite Eight teams, a Sweet Sixteen squad and experienced last year’s Final Four season.
But Browner wants to continue the winning tradition, and he couldn’t think of a better place to be at.
“I didn’t go to Newton High School (as a student), but this place feels like home,” Browner said. “We have a family feeling here. And this community is one of the best communities I’ve ever been in and they support everything. The culture here is to win and we want to win. Newton is just a special place to be. Period.”