POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The Pearl River men's basketball program has been on a tear the past few seasons and now one of its longtime assistants is reaping the benefits. Assistant coach Chris Woodall recently accepted a position on the Jackson State University men's basketball staff.
"You get into this field not just for the gratification of helping young men but also for the gratification of fulfilling your own dreams," PRCC coach Chris Oney said. "Becoming a Division I assistant has been a dream of coach Woodall's and we're happy we were able to assist him in getting there."
Woodall joined the Wildcat staff in 2016 and has been a crucial part of the recent success the program has experienced. Woodall helped lead the Wildcats to their 16th MACJC title in 2018 and followed that up the next season when they posted a 26-4 record and won the Region XXIII Tournament to clinch the programs first berth in the NJCAA Tournament where they advanced to the second round.
Oney was quick to point out just how crucial Woodall was during that run.
"They don't get more loyal than coach Woodall," Oney said. "He was the mayo and mustard to my burger. He knew exactly how to go right when I went left. There were times that I would put a kid out of practice but he knew what that meant for him. He knew that meant to go back and cool that kid off and get him back in practice.
"He'd spend time in the dorm with the player if they had a bad practice just to be there."
In a tenure with so many exceptional moments it was difficult for Woodall to point out a moment that stood out the most for him while he was at Pearl River.
"Throughout those three years I've been with coach Oney, he has trained me and taught me how to be a better coach, trainer and recruiter," Woodall said. "Being with Oney every step of the way and then being able to win a Region XXIII championship with him and these kids was the high point for me."
For Woodall, the move to return to his hometown is bittersweet but he felt this was the right opportunity for him to move to the next level.
"This was the goal for me," Woodall said. "My goal was to take that next step. I'm familiar with the area and familiar the people there and I think it's a good opportunity for me. The transition is going to be hard to leave the kids and leave coach Oney and coach (Hayden) Sowers."
While Woodall will be making a new start he will actually be around some familiar faces at JSU with Pearl River alums Jonas James (Jackson; Murrah) and Eric Thornton Jr. (Jackson; Murrah) playing for the Tigers.
"I think it helps that I already know Jonas and Eric and have coached them before," Woodall said. "They're excited and I think it gives them a level of confidence that they have someone coaching them that they're familiar with. I think it makes them more comfortable while also helping me adjust to the team."
Pearl River Community College
Assistant Director of Communications for Athletics