Former Lincolnton High School standout athlete Jalen Littlejohn has been selected as the Wolves next men’s head basketball coach.
Littlejohn, 28, played both basketball and football at Lincolnton, and was a key member of the 2011 Wolves football team that finished as the 2A state runner-up.
But basketball was his first love.
“Growing up, I always mimicked everything I saw (cousins) Jeremy Wilson, Darren Wilson and Eric Wilson do,” said Littlejohn. “I wanted to dribble like Darren, shoot like Eric and score like Jeremy.”
He attended every Lincolnton game from first through eighth grade because of his uncle Steve, who has never missed a game since graduating high school in the 80’s. “I witnessed every heartbreaking loss and every celebrated win,” Littlejohn said. “I was so impatient as a kid having to wait my time to become a Wolf, and even leading up to this opportunity present day, I would wish of waking up and it being 2009 again. I bled black and gold.”
Littlejohn began coaching with the Denver Nuggets travel team before a three-year stint as women’s JV basketball coach and another three years as a varsity men’s assistant at East Lincoln.
And now taking over a program where he has spent his playing days, he has a plan.
“My vision is to get Lincolnton basketball back to playing at a high level,” Littlejohn said. “Back to being the team that creates havoc and fear in opponents. Back to being the team that other teams circle on the schedule at the beginning of the season.”
He also wants to make sure the community feels a part of the program. “During my time in high school, I felt like the community was behind Lincolnton in all sports,” Littlejohn said. “People do not understand that this itself can make a team go out and play hard. I see our community being just as excited for the season as my coaching staff and players. I also vision our youth programs expanding back to old ways.”
Littlejohn believes that the Wolves previous success came because kids were given many different outlets and leagues to flourish.
The new leader at LHS would also like to give the kids options in life, and not just through sports. “To allow these kids to understand basketball is fun and creates locker room bonds that can never be broken, but what are your plans after the ball stops dribbling?,” Littlejohn said.
I have noted that as you grow older, you have to have a plan to fall back on. “I want to be able to help teach these kids life through the game of basketball. That the same work ethic applied in sports should be the same work ethic you should have when you one day have a family depending on you to provide,” said Littlejohn. “That same attention to detail in sports is the same attention to detail and structure you should hold yourself accountable to in everyday life in order to stay organized and professional.”
“I am extremely excited for Coach Jalen Littlejohn to be our new men’s varsity basketball head coach,” said Lincolnton High School Principal Scott Carpenter. “Coach Littlejohn has high expectations for his team from him. He will also work very closely with our JV basketball program. Coach Littlejohn brings enthusiasm, talent, skills and experience, and he understands the way to build relationships. We are very fortunate to have a coach of his caliber at LHS.”
Littlejohn believes that he is ready for the next step, and that the stage will not be too big. “I believe that I’m well prepared for this season and seasons going forward,” he said. “I’ve been under some of the best coaches, whether that’s during my time as a player or coach. I have been mentored by coaches that year in and year out prove why they are the best in the game.”
“My intentions are to be here longer than the longest has ever been here. I’m here to stay.”
The new coach wants to not only develop good basketball players, but to develop exceptional young men in the community as well.
Littlejohn takes over the Lincolnton program after Phil Robinson served as head coach for one season. Robinson guided the Wolves to a record of 13-13, with a 10-3 mark in the Catawba Valley 2A Conference.
“I am thankful for the support and for my Lincolnton Wolfpack,” Littlejohn said. “I am ready to get to work and begin to create a new legacy.”
(Published July 22, 2022)