Spain Park names former Thompson coach DJ Black as new boys basketball coach

Published 5:44 pm Tuesday, May 14, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

HOOVER – The Spain Park Jaguars will turn to a well-known name from Shelby County to lead its boys basketball program forward.

Spain Park High School announced former Thompson boys basketball coach DJ Black as its new varsity boys basketball head coach on social media on Tuesday, May 14.

Black thanked Hoover City Schools superintendent Kevin Maddox, Spain Park principal Amanda Esslinger, Spain Park athletic director Josh Donaldson and the Hoover Board of Education for allowing him to come to Spain Park to teach and coach.

“Spain Park is a special place that excels as a school in all aspects,” Black said in a statement. “Just recently, Spain Park was once again ranked as one the top 10 schools in the state which is a credit to its leadership, administration, teachers, and support staff.  They are consistently in the top 10 in just about all sports and have a growth mindset to continue to get better.”

Black comes to Spain Park from Thompson where he spent two seasons at the helm of the Warriors before the school turned to Major Deacon last month as its new basketball coach.

Most recently, Black led Thompson to its first Elite Eight appearance since 2013 thanks to a Sweet 16 win over James Clemens. The Warriors reached the playoffs behind a runner-up finish in the area after they beat Vestavia Hills in the area tournament semifinals.

In total, Black has 18 years of coaching experience at the high school and college levels and will use that to help the Jags move forward.

“During his career, Coach Black has guided players to success on the court and led several to play at the next level,” the school said in an Instagram post announcing the hire. “Coach Black brings not only a wealth of basketball knowledge but also a desire to create a culture of high expectations within the program. We are excited about welcoming Coach Black and his family to Spain Park.”

Black will replace Chris Laatsch after Laatsch announced he would take over as Orange Beach’s varsity boys basketball head coach last month.

Laatsch spent 26 years in Shelby County coaching at Briarwood Christian School, Helena High School and Spain Park High School. He led the Jags to the Elite Eight in 2020 before going to three straight Final Fours from 2021-2023.

Black thanked Laatsch for their years of friendship and looks forward to building on the standard of success he set.

“Although it’s a younger school, it already has a rich history in basketball,” Black said. “I am excited to get to work in the gym with the players and staff.   We are going to hit the ground running as college coaches have already reached out because they know Spain Park always has players.”