After spending the last nine years at Wiley College, Jameus Hartsfield is heading home. He accepted a job as a teacher and coach at Marlin Junior Academy.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” Hartsfield said. “I’ve always dreamed of returning home. I didn’t know when or how. I’m glad I get to go and give back to my community where I grew up.”
Hartsfield will teach physical education and coach boys’ athletics. He graduated from Marlin High School in 2004 and went on to play basketball at Texas College. He helped the Steers to the Red River Athletic Conference Championship game in 2007-08. He led the NAIA in rebounding in his junior and senior seasons.
After his graduation in 2008, Hartsfield joined the Wiley College men’s basketball staff as a volunteer assistant – which was led by his former college coach Andre Payne. He was promoted to full time assistant in 2009. During his six seasons as an assistant coach he helped three players earn NAIA All-American recognition – Darnell Adams, Kenny LaGuerre and Phillip Miller. Miller earned NAIA Athlete of the Week during the 2013-14 season. The Wildcats won their second Red River Athletic Conference Tournament Championship and clinched their third berth to the NAIA Tournament. After the season, Payne took the head coach position at Mississippi Valley State University. Hartsfield was the perfect candidate to succeed him.
In his first season as head coach, Hartsfield guided the Wildcats to a 21-12 record and their fourth NAIA Tournament Berth. He helped Miller become Red River Athletic Conference Player of the Year and First Team NAIA All-American.
In 2015, Hartsfield was promoted to associate athletic director by Dr. Joseph L. Morale. He was in charge of eligibility and led Wiley College Athletics’ community service efforts. Under Hartsfield’s watch not one ineligible athlete took the field for Wiley College. He also helped manage the athletic department budget and assisted in forming the Wiley College Wildcat 3.0 Club in 2016-2017.
The Wildcats battled injuries and chemistry issues in 2015-16 – finishing with a 16-12 record – missing the NAIA Tournament for the first time since 2012-13. Prior to the season Hartsfield hired his first two assistant coaches – Mac McConnell and Curtis Bason Jr. After having a season working together under their belts, they were able to guide the Wildcats to a more successful 2016-17 season.
Wiley College went 23-10 and clinched their third NAIA Tournament Berth. In Hartfield’s third season they won seven games against nationally-ranked teams – including the defending NAIA Champion Mid-America Christian University and Texas Wesleyan University. The Wildcats were ranked most of the season reaching their highest ranking in program history at No. 7. Hartsfield had two NAIA Players of the Week, George Page (SR/Winnfield, LA) and Ricardo Artis (SR/Austin, Texas). Both players would be first team All-Red River Athletic Conference and earn NAIA All-American recognition. Artis led the conference in rebounds and double-doubles and was ranked in the top 10 in the NAIA in both categories. Cory Jones (SR/Houston, Texas) led the conference in assists and was ranked third in the NAIA. In four seasons, Hartsfield helped Page score 1,531 points and grab 693 rebounds. Twice during Hartsfield’s tenure as head coach the Wildcats beat NCAA Division I schools – Sam Houston State in 2015-2016 and Grambling State University in an exhibition game last season.
“I am so elated that this opportunity has come to Coach Hartsfield,” Morale said. “He is a consummate professional. I am confident that he will elevate the program in his hometown and will have a very positive impact on young lives for years to come.”
In Hartsfield’s three years as head coach, the Wildcats went 60-34. In all nine years, he had two players go on to play professionally overseas – Miller and Christopher Tawiah. Ten athletes earned All-Conference and 11 earned Red River Athletic Conference Player of the Week.
“I’ve been here nine years and have the program in a pretty good place,” Hartsfield said. “To go home is always a joy. Wiley College is home too. I’m leaving home to go home. So it’s kind of bittersweet. I’m very excited about this new chapter.”
The Wildcats are expected to return six players from last season’s team including starting guards Kevondric Davis (JR/Shreveport, LA) and Stephen Taylor (SO/Houston, Texas).
“He’s going to get some warriors,” Hartsfield said. “Most of the guys returning have been here at least two years. They know what the college expects and how to represent Wiley College when they play. The team is guard heavy and scrappy. Hopefully, the next coach will be able to hit the ground running.”