FORT MILL --
Last year, former Fort Mill High head basketball coach Bailey Jackson came back to the high school in a relatively quiet role serving as an assistant with the Clover High girls varsity basketball team.
But this year, he will be front and center.
Jackson, who coached at Fort Mill High from the 2003-2004 basketball season through the 2010-2011 season, will be on the opposite sideline Friday against Fort Mill as the head coach for Region III-AAAA foe Clover. This will be the first time he comes back to Fort Mill as the head coach of another school since he left at the end of the school year in 2011.
This will be the second time Clover has played Fort Mill since he took over at Clover.
I hope it turns out better than it did the first time, he said, referring to his teams 66-58 loss to Fort Mill at Clover earlier this month. Its a game we need to win. We need to play well.
Both Fort Mill and Clover are fighting to get into the state playoffs that start in February.
While at Fort Mill, Jackson posted a 128-76 record and led the Jackets to just their second state championship in basketball in the 2006-2007 season. Jackson, who won his 200th career game earlier this season, said he hadnt been thinking much about coming back to Fort Mill until questioned about it.
Jackson likens his return to Fort Mill as a head coach to having Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski bring a new team into Cameron Indoor Stadium.
It will be different, he said. Being on the other end of the crowd and the student section. It will be different being the 'bad guy.' Just knowing what we did to build interest in the program and build the student section into what it is today. Its a great atmosphere.
Taking the Fort Mill program over from his mentor and now Nation Ford head coach Brian Turner, Jackson had two tough years to start his time at Fort Mill. But his third through fifth years, his team went 66-15 and won the state title in that stretch.
We had some great kids and I loved them to death, he said. I dont have anything but fond memories of Fort Mill.
Jackson, who grew up in Clover and attended Clover High School, said he is learning a lot with this years team from those early days he had at Fort Mill.
I dont think about those first years at Fort Mill much, but I can relate to the first year here (Clover), Jackson said. I learned a lot that first year in Fort Mill. I have taken that and applied it here (Clover) and the kids are buying in 100 percent.