Levi ready for challenge to bring Alcovy basketball back to the top

Staff photo: Manny Fils  Alcovy's new boys head coach Jbari Levi (left) and his assistant, Michael Dukes, hope to bring the Tigers program back to another elite team.

Staff photo: Manny Fils Alcovy's new boys head coach Jbari Levi (left) and his assistant, Michael Dukes, hope to bring the Tigers program back to another elite team.

COVINGTON -- It seems like Jabari Levi, Alcovy's new boys basketball coach, is ready for the season to start having spent time with his future players.

"I'm looking forward for the school year to start to get a feel of the atmosphere and morale around here," Levi said. "I know I want to get some people in the stands. That's going to be a big thing. I believe I only have three or four seniors coming up so I have a good young crop of talent here."

The players were able to attend summer camps at Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State and play in a few scrimmage games against Rockdale, Heritage, a few Augusta schools and Eagle's Landing, giving Levi a feel for the talent he has on the team.

One thing Levi established early was his brand of discipline and justice. Prior to going to the camps when they were working out and playing scrimmages, a few of his key players either missed a day or showed up plate. He gave those players who showed up on time and did not miss practice a chance to start as reward.

"I'm firm but I'm fair," Levi said. "I think that's one thing that they like. We've been doing some things and I wanted to come right in and get familiar with the guys. I know once the season starts we play Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. There's not a lot of room so I tried to get as much done this summer to help me out."

His basketball philosophy on offense is to put space between the player with the ball and the opponent. On defense, he believes in see ball, see man, which means you don't guard man, you protect the goal.

The other thing that Levi liked was the play of his big players, including 6-foot-8 sophomore Jordan Smith

"Those three guys will be critical pieces," Levi said. "My biggest thing is skill development and teaching life skills. As long as I have everybody in place, I think I we can do some good things"

Before coming to Alcovy, Levi coached at T.W. Josey High School in Augusta for four seasons winning a region championship and going to the state tournament twice. While the school was getting smaller, going from Class AAAA his first year down to Class AA last year and probably Class A in the next cycle, he wanted a chance to go up against the big teams in the state.

"I know Atlanta is the place, and I definitely want to compete against the best. That's one of the reasons I choose a AAAAAA school. I had some offers from some AAA schools and some AAAA schools but I wanted a AAAAAA school," Levi said. "I wanted to compete against the best and I thought this was the best opportunity.

"That's my motivation. I know last year it seemed like it was a down year but I've looked at previous years and saw they had some success. That's definitely something that intrigued me about coming here."

With the talent that he saw at camp and what he hopes to find in the hallways of Alcovy once school starts, Levi feels that he can turn around the team from last season and take them back to the playoffs next season. If not, then at the very least improve from their 7-18 record.

"My goal is always to get to the state tournament. Just like in college, you always want to get to the NCAA tournament and let the chips fall where they may. We have seven teams in the region so my goal is to be one of those top four," Levi said. "Of course winning the region would be the best."

While he knows he can build and improve on the talent the team currently has, he feels that a lack of discipline is not a problem. However, the one thing he wants to do is build a trust between the players, the parents and the school.

"They're some very disciplined young men. I can tell from me coming from more of a city to coming to Covington, a little bit smaller town, it's a big difference. As long as we can build that brotherhood, the rest will take care of itself," he said.

"I want people to feel like they can approach me and talk to me or express any concerns. I know that's one of the biggest things coming into a new area. By me coming from Augusta, I'm new to a lot of people."