By Mike Monahan

The Mattoon school board approved Jimmy McKee as the new Mattoon boys’ basketball coach. He replaces Brandon Jones after one season.

“This means a lot (being head coach),” said McKee who has met the team.  “I am looking forward to the challenges that will come. I am eager to get June workouts underway and start building relationships with my guys.”

McKee was selected from 10 applications, seven of whom were interviewed. 

“McKee carries himself very well,” said Mattoon athletics director Trent Duckett. “He is genuine and professional. He has a great passion for the game of basketball and has had great success both as a player and as a junior varsity and assistant varsity coach.”

McKee says he want to develop strong relationships with players in order to assist with their athletic and academic pursuits. “Though we desire to win every game, my emphasis will be based on developing fundamentally sound players who are coachable and able to adapt to an ever-changing environment,” he said. “I believe in pushing student-athletes beyond what is expected of them and motivating them to do the same in their lives outside of basketball. I yearn to instill pride in these student-athletes for their self, community, team, family and school.”

From 2013-2015, he was at Mexico, Missouri, where he served as a volunteer during his first year with the junior varsity/varsity teams.

In 2015-16, he coached the team in Mexico.

From 2016-2018, he was the freshman coach at David H. Hickman High School in Columbia, Mo., a school with an enrollment of 1,912.

McKee left coaching from 2018-2020 to earn a masters degree.

McKee returned to Hickman High as the freshman coach in 2021 and the last two seasons he has been the head junior varsity and assistant varsity coach under Cray Logan. The Hickman Kewpies went 21-10 last season and included games against teams in Kansas and Tennessee. 

Although McKee’s teaching position has not been finalized, he has an elementary degree with a social science concentration. McKee was nominated for Elementary Teacher of the Year in the Columbia school district and he was the nominee voted from the elementary school. 

“We want to hire good people to work, teach, and coach in our district, and I feel that he will be an excellent role model to our students and our athletes,” said Duckett. 

McKee is married to Carrie, who is a Springfield Lutheran graduate. 

“While searching for teaching and coaching positions, I came across Mattoon,” said McKee. “I first noticed that it was in the middle between my family in Indiana and my wife’s in Springfield. I looked into Mattoon a little more and researched about their schools and the things they have going on. The ‘Leader in Me’ process really caught my interest. I always try to instill leadership qualities in my students and players so that they can lead by example in their community.”

McKee said one of his high school teammates played basketball at Eastern Illinois. 

Jones resigned after one year in which Mattoon finished 7-24 overall and 3-9 in the Apollo Conference, sixth place. Six players graduated from that team.  McKee is working on getting assistant coaches. Mattoon averaged 47.5 points per game last season, while allowing 57.9. 

“I am a huge man-to-man fan, but I also have a few other defensive variations I like to use,” said McKee of his preferred defense. 

As for offense, McKee said: “I do like to get up the floor and create advantages,” said McKee. “My offense will all depend on the lineup I have on the floor and what advantages we can create depending on the scouting report.”

McKee played high school basketball at Northwestern High School in Kokomo, Ind.  as a 6-5 201 pound center. His sophomore season they won the Class 2A state championship in a 78-74 double overtime win over Winchester. Northwestern finished 25-2 and was coached by Jim Gish. 

Mcee said basketball has been a big part of his life since he was 7 years old. 

“I grew up watching Bobby Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers,” said McKee. “There is nothing like high school basketball in Indiana. High school basketball had the greatest atmosphere every Friday or Saturday. We would always have the whole week and the media/ newspapers would hype up the week’s games. Gyms were packed and student sections were always alive.”

He went on to play at Culver-Stockton in Canton, Mo. ,where the Wildcats compete in the NAIA at the Division I level. He played there from 2009-2012.

His freshman year was a rebuilding season. 

“By my senior year, we went from a less than 10-win a season team to one of our school’s best records in history going 20-9, ranking 10th nationally (in the NAIA), and making the national tournament falling in the elite eight against the eventual national champion,” said McKee.