Nathan Clayborn named new Patriots boys basketball head coach
Nathan Clayborn named new Patriots boys basketball head coach
Clayborn, a former assistant coach at North Little Rock High School, plans on bringing a fast- paced style of basketball and hopefully many wins to the Marion Patriots in his first season as the school’s newest boys basketball head coach
The next head coach of the Marion Patriots boys basketball team has been announced, and the newest addition to the Patriots sideline is former North Little Rock boys basketball assistant coach Nathan Clayborn, Jr.
The 37-year-old Clayborn makes his way to the Patriots after spending his last five years with the Charging Wildcats of North Little Rock and decades in coaching which began with a 14-year-old Clayborn taking charge of a community center t-ball team in Little Rock.
Clayborn says the athletic potential of the Patriots made the job too enticing to pass up.
“Athletes. Every year, we watch Marion on film and they have just as athletic kids as North Little Rock,” Clayborn said. “So, the potential is there. They have great facilities and Marion seems like a great town. So, I gave it a shot and they believed in me and gave me a shot.”
Clayborn says he is excited to work with some of the returning Marion players, such as Timothy Ceaser, Keyshawn Woods and Martinez Harper, as well as incoming Patriots like Detrick Reeves and Makyi Boyce. The incoming Patriots head coach says that Marion fans can expect an up-tempo style play on the court this season.
“I just believe, last year when they played, they just played a different style of ball,” Clayborn said.
“They slowed it down.
We’re going to get after you. We’re going to pick you up full-court, and if that’s not working then we’ll find another way.
But, we won’t be sitting back on defense. We won’t be sitting back watching you do what you do every day in practice… Like I told (the team), it’s going to be a little different. But, it’s going to be real fun and I think it’s going to work out for everybody.”
Fast, aggressive defense seems to be the most noticeable thing Clayborn plans to implement in the Patriots game plan, along with allowing his players to be where they need to be to reach their full potential.
“Get them in the gym, work them and see what they’re best at and then let the kids do what they’re best at,” Clayborn said.
“We’ll be aggressive on defense, and on offense we’ll let offensive players make plays,” Clayborn added. “We’ll put them in a position where they’re comfortable enough to make plays, and on defense we’re going to attack, attack, attack.
Whether that’s full-court or half-court, traps will come, rotations will come, steals will come and fast-breaks.
We’re going to play fast.”
Clayborn, who graduated from Little Rock Central High School in 1998, Arkansas State in 2003, and this year earned a Masters degree from A-State, enjoyed success during his time at 7A North Little Rock High School, a tenure which included being part of a coaching staff that saw the Charging Wildcats finish last season with a 25-4 overall record and also included three consecutive state championships, beginning with the 2012-2013 season. During that championship threepeat, in Clayborn’s first year with the team as an interim assistant coach, North Little Rock bounced back from a season opening loss to win the remainder of their games and, two seasons later, defeated Malik Monk to win another state title.
“I think the best one of all was that first one,” Clayborn said. “I think that just set the tone. That set the building block, our first year we won. So, when kids come over, they have that expectation. Our best kids were our best kids on the court, on and off. So, kids just kind of fell in line as they came up. There was no question of what we were doing because we were so successful that first year.”
Certainly, Marion is hoping that Clayborn can bring some of that championship winning experience to the Patriots, who were eliminated from last season’s 6A state tournament in the quarterfinal round.
Clayborn believes a faster pace of play may be able to help the Patriots get over that hump and fight deeper into the playoffs.
“I’ve seen some of the guys play,” Clayborn said.
“I’ve worked with Team Penny. I’ve seen Tim (Ceaser) play. The kids just want to play fast and have a little more freedom.
What we do and the style we bring will allow them to do that. And, when they’re confident in their abilities and what they can do, I believe you can get more out of them.”
While this is Clayborn’s first high school head coaching position, the former North Little Rock coach is very familiar with Marion and the Patriots opponents. Until last season when the 6A Patriots were no longer associated with 7A schools due a reclassification throughout Arkansas high school conferences, the Charging Wildcats saw Marion every season.
“I just believe, with my path and with the kids I’ve coached and with the competition we’ve played against, it has prepared me,” Clayborn said. “We were in conference with Jonesboro, West Memphis and all of the best in the 6A. We played (Little Rock) Hall regularly. We play those kids regularly. I coach really year-round.
This is the first summer I haven’t coached AAU basketball. So, I coach yearround and I’ve met different people and I’ve seen the different talents and I believe I’ve learned how to adjust on the fly in games.
Like, you have a game plan going into games, and if that doesn’t necessarily always work out the way you want it, so you have to adjust in games. And, I believe I’ve learned to do that.”
Also, being just a couple decades removed from many of the players he will be coaching, Clayborn brings a youthful presence to the Patriots which he hopes will allow him to connect with his team in a special way.
“I believe being younger really helps with the kids,” Clayborn said. “I guess they tend to gravitate towards the younger… It’s all about the relationship with the kids, and that’s what I plan on going to build a relationship with each and every one of them and let them know that I trust them so they’ll trust me. I believe everything will be great.”
Along with his up-temp coaching style and youthful demeanor, Clayborn brings a family to Marion, which consists of his wife, Diamond Clayborn, and his son, Nathan Clayborn, III.
Clayborn and the Marion Patriots will tip off their first season together this November at the annual Patriots Classic.
By Collins Peeples