Former Southern Miss student-athlete and 1988 graduate Jay Ladner was announced as the school's new head men's basketball coach on April 18, 2019. Ladner, a member of the 1987 NIT championship team, previously served five years at the helm for Southeastern Louisiana, guiding the team to the 2017-18 Southland Conference regular-season title.
"This all happened so fast," Ladner said. "What I can say is that dreams can come true. It's so humbling to know the support we have on the journey we are about to embark on, laying a foundation that has pride, dignity and is destined for success. To be able to come home and coach where you're from, it's exciting. There's no way I can properly thank all the people who have supported me throughout this process."
Under Ladner's leadership, Southeastern improved from nine wins his first year to win 12, 16 and 22 contests in succeeding years. It was the school's first 20-win season since reaching the 2005 NCAA Tournament and the third in its Division I era. The 2018-19 squad featured two First-Team, All-Southland performers in Marlain Veal and Moses Greenwood, just the third time in school history that two Lions earned that distinction. Overall, Ladner mentored eight All-Conference performers in his five years.
"We are thrilled to welcome Jay Ladner and his family back to Hattiesburg and Southern Miss," Jeremy McClain, Director of Athletics said. "Jay has proven throughout his career that he is a winner, elevating every basketball program with which he has been associated. We look forward to him leading and developing our student-athletes and taking our program to new heights."
The famed NIT championship team defeated Ole Miss, Saint Louis, Vanderbilt, Nebraska and La Salle en route to the title in Madison Square Garden under legendary coach M.K. Turk.
Ladner's coaching credentials feature a 511-189 record in the high school ranks, from St. Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis to his alma mater, Oak Grove. He led St. Stanislaus to 10 state tournament appearances, including the 2011 title for which he was named the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) Coach of the Year.
Ladner then took his talents to the collegiate ranks, spending the 2012-14 seasons as head coach at Jones County Junior College. The Bobcats were 17-8 in his first season, finishing second in the MACJC's South Division, and during the 2013-14 season became the first Mississippi junior college to win a national title. JCJC set a school record for wins at 28-5 and became the lowest-seeded school to win a NJCAA basketball title in any division, as well as the first school in tournament history to win five games in five days for the title.
The Hattiesburg native received his bachelor's degree in pre-medicine/biology, with a minor in chemistry, from Southern Miss in 1988. He received his master's degree in educational administration from Southern Miss in 1999. Ladner and his wife, Jennifer, have two children, Chelsea and Luke.
Southern Miss head men's basketball coach Jay Ladner announced Kyle Roane as the first hire on his inaugural Golden Eagle staff. Roane, a 1995 graduate of the school, will serve as the associate head coach. This marks his third stint at Southern Miss, each under a different coach.
"I can't be more excited that Coach Roane has agreed to join our staff here," Ladner said. "In my opinion, he's one of the top Division I assistants. He's someone whose name resonates throughout our southern Mississippi footprint. He was a high school and junior college coach with vast Division I experience before he joined our staff at Southeastern Louisiana. He was instrumental in building our program there."
Roane, a native of Brooklyn, Miss., was an assistant at Southeastern Louisiana under Ladner during the 2014-15 and 2017-19 seasons, including helping the team to the 2018 Southland Conference regular-season title. It stands as the Lions' third, 20-win season in its Division I tenure (beginning in 1980). This past year's team featured two First-Team All-SLC performers in Marlain Veal and Moses Greenwood, just the third time in program history that two Lions earned that distinction.
"I'm super excited to join Coach Ladner at Southern Miss," Roane said. "This place is very unique to me in terms of being a graduate here. I've had unique situations to be employed prior to this tenure. It's a special time at Southern Miss because of the enthusiasm that Coach Ladner's hire has brought to the program."
Roane was an assistant coach from 1996-2000 under James Green before being named the associate head coach until 2003. During that time, Southern Miss had two, 22-win seasons, advancing to the NIT each year and winning the 2001 Conference USA regular-season championship. He also served as the Director of Operations under Doc Sadler for the 2016-17 season.
"I think Hattiesburg is a great place and city and that Southern Miss is a great school with a strong community," Roane said. "Our men's basketball program is on the verge of growing into something really special. I know how excited Coach Ladner is about being the head coach here, and it's going to be great to share the passion he has for this place."
Roane's Pine Belt roots run deep. He has served at the helm at Forrest County Agricultural High School (2003-05, 2010-11), Pearl River Community College (2005-06), Jones County Junior College (2006-08), before rejoining Green at Jacksonville State from 2008-10 and returning to the high school ranks where he led Petal from 2011-14.
That first head coaching stint saw back-to-back postseason appearances before helping the PRCC Wildcats to the South State Championship. His first foray into the coaching world was as an assistant for PRCC before and after he earned his degree in coaching and sport administration.
Roane is married to the former Brooke Dykes, and the couple has two children, Spencer and Shelby.
Southern Miss men's basketball head coach Jay Ladner announced in May 2019 that former WKU and professional standout Anthony Winchester has joined his inaugural staff as the video coordinator.
"Excitement can't aptly describe my feelings about getting Anthony to campus," Ladner said. "He was an outstanding player at Western Kentucky and had a great pro career. As he embarks on a coaching career, he has great experience from his previous stops and has an exciting wealth of talent that he brings to our staff. I'm happy and anxious for him to get started."
Winchester spent the 2018-19 season at Loyola Marymount, helping the squad to a 22-12 record that included a win over Georgetown in Jamaica. He previously had a successful playing career in Spain and Puerto Rico, and a coaching stop at his alma mater, WKU, where he served as a Graduate Intern and Director of Basketball Operations.
"It's a great opportunity to be here at Southern Miss," Winchester said. "I'm looking forward to helping in any way I can. Big things are ahead for Coach Ladner and Southern Miss, and I'm excited and anxious to be a part of his first staff here."
His responsibilities with the Hilltoppers from 2008-2010 included Video Coordinator, assisting with scouting of opponents, assisting with player development and mentoring of student athletes, overseeing and coordinating all recruiting official visits, and assisting in all aspects of day to day operations. The 2008-09 team won the Sun Belt regular season and the conference tournament, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament after defeating Illinois to open March Madness. His time working at WKU came while recovering from a back injury, between his time playing professionally overseas.
In 2007-2008, Winchester played in Spain for Melilla Baloncesto in the LEB Gold Division, and averaged a team high 12.8 ppg and was twice named Player of the Month. In 2012-2013, he played in Spain for CB Breogan Lugo in the LEB Gold Division and averaged a team high 15.3 ppg leading to being named Guard of the Year. He averaged 10.2 points per game in Spain for Gipuzkoa Basket in the ACB (Spanish 1st Division) in 2014-15, which is considered one of the best leagues in Europe. Winchester finished his professional career playing in Spain's 1st Division, ACB, known as the second-best league in the world.
Winchester put together a decorated career as an undergrad with the Hilltoppers, beginning with his 2003 Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year Award and concluding with the 2006 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American honors as a senior. His 1,732 career points rank eighth in WKU history, and his 247 career three-pointers are second in program history, leading Winchester to a selection to Western Kentucky's Men's Basketball Centennial Team (1906-2006). Winchester played in three postseasons with the Hilltoppers: The 2003 NCAA Tournament with his Sun Belt regular season and tournament championship team, the 2005 NIT where they advanced to the second round, and the 2006 NIT after winning another Sun Belt regular season title and reaching the conference title game before losing to eventual champion South Carolina.
Winchester graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from WKU in 2006.
A standout prep star, Winchester was the 2002 Indiana Mr. Basketball Runner-Up after finishing his career with 2,256 points, which ranks 11th all-time in Indiana history. His 34.7 points per game and 13.5 points per game as a senior led Austin High School (Austin, Indiana) to the 2002 2A Final Four and Mid-Southern Conference Champions.
Garland Wilson was named the Director of Basketball Operations for Jay Ladner's inaugural Golden Eagle staff in May 2019.
Wilson served the last three seasons as the director of basketball operations at Southeastern, where he supervised team travel, player personnel, basketball camps and other facets of the program.
"Garland Wilson is a coach with a lot of experience in operations," Ladner said. "He's my right-hand man and keeps me organized. I was honored to work with him at Southeastern Louisiana. Having someone with his experience not just from operations but from working with me personally shortens our learning curve here."
Wilson previously served as director basketball operations at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Ala. from 2012-16. He was also a graduate assistant coach at Jacksonville State from January to May 2012 and the program’s head equipment manager from 2004-09.
"I'm excited to be here," Wilson said. "I've worked with Coach Ladner in the past, and he had enough confidence to bring me here with him. It's great to be at a higher level and continue to learn more things and help our program anyway I can."
Wilson received a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in business marketing from Jacksonville State in 2009.