By Tim Ward
Before there was coach TJ Billups, before coach Wayne Brent, before coach Luther Riley, there was coach Orsmond Jordan Jr. Short in stature, tall in resume’. Coach Jordan coached for 38 years. Jordan is the only coach with a national championship on his belt. His 1964 Lanier high school basketball team went 43 & 0.
Let’s start from the beginning if you will. Prior to tormenting opposing coaches on the sidelines, Jordan was a standout basketball player at Alcorn State University. He scored 1124 points collegiately from 1951 to 1955. Alcorn inducted him into the Alcorn State University Sports Hall of Fame.
1956 is the starting point for Jordan’s career on the bench. Fresh out of Alcorn, Jordan was hired as the head coach for East Flora High School. He coached there until 1961. 1962, Jordan was hired at Lanier High School. In 1964, Jordan guided a talented Bulldogs team to a perfect 43 & 0 record culminating with not a state championship, but a national championship. In 1967, he took the head coaching job at Brinkley High School.
To the young readers of this article, yes that is correct; there was a Brinkley HIGH school. They may only know Brinkley Middle School. After coaching only two seasons at Brinkley, Jordan would arrive at his final coaching destination, Murrah High School. From 1970 to 1994, Jordan patrolled the sidelines in legendary fashion, coaching some of the best high school players in Mississippi history. Lindsey Hunter, Jesse Pate, Kenny O’Bannon, Ronnie Henderson, Othello Harrington, Ricky Short, James Robinson, Knovin Hamilton and Donnal Allen are the names people immediately speak of and deservedly so.
In his 24 year tenure at Murrah, Jordan won four state championships, finished with over 30 wins in a season three times, was named coach of the year four times by the Clarion Ledger. His last state championship came in 1992 when Murrah had their “Big 3” – Othella Harrington, who would go on to play in the NBA for over 10 years, Ronnie Henderson and Jessie Pate. The trio was devastating and brought Jordan his last championship by completing the season 36 & 1. They also won in 1991.
During his entire coaching career, Jordan amassed over 700 wins – 14 seasons of 20 wins or more, four seasons of 30 wins, and one 40 win season. He coached seven All Americans, five Mississippi Player of the year winners, 8 professional basketball players and three McDonalds All Americans. The outpouring from not only Murrah High School supporters, but nationally has been tremendous. A slew of former players expressed their sadness via social media.
Along with their sadness, they shared some of Jordan’s quotes.Wayne Brent, Jackson State’s current men’s basketball coach gave a moving tribute on facebook on how Jordan inspired him to be the coach he has become. The legend has passed on, but his legacy will live forever.
Orsmond Jordan Jr. was married to Marion Imogene Clark Jodan, a retired JPS educator. They had two children: son Ronald, daughter Monica Horhn Grant and one grandson, Justin Horhn.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, February 23, 2017, at New Hope Baptist Church, 5202 Watkins Dr., Jackson, MS 39206.