High school hires former NIU player


Former NIU basketball player Jay Bryant is moving on to become the head boys’ basketball coach at Hononegah High School in Rockton, Ill.

“I’m real excited to work at Hononegah,” said Bryant. “It’ll be a great school to work for.”

Hononegah High School Principal Richard Beck said Bryant’s past experience was the key to his selection.

“I think we were impressed with his background credentials,” he said. “He was a proven winner at the high school level.”

As a player at Aurora West High School, Bryant won All-State honors and led his team to a second place finish in the 1976 Class AA State Tournament.

In addition to being a coach, Bryant will be a teacher in Hononegah’s physical education program.

“We wanted to hire not just a coach, but a teacher,” Beck said. “He was a very good candidate.”

Bryant played on the NIU basketball team from 1976 to 1980. He still holds NIU records for single season assists (163 in during his senior year) and career assists (367).

Additionally, Bryant scored 460 points in 107 appearances on the court. He also made Honorable Mention All-Mid American Conference his senior year.

A good supporting player, Bryant worked well with former NIU stars such as Allen Rayhorn, Paul Dawkins and Matt Hicks. Rayhorn (1,848 points), Dawkins (1,749 points) and Hicks (1,513 points) rank two, three and five respectively on NIU’s all-time scoring list.

“Without Jay Bryant, I’m nothing,” Rayhorn said. “He’s the guy who gets me the points, who gets me the ball.”

After graduation, Bryant began his coaching career as a graduate aide to then_head basketball coach John MacDougal. After his first year, he was offered the head basketball coach position at Waubonsee Community College.

He coached Waubonsee to a winning record of 48 wins, 32 losses during his three years with the college.

Bryant then entered the high school level, taking over as head basketball coach at Aurora Marmion Military Academy. He coached the academy for eight seasons and ended up with a winning percentage of .550.

Bryant then returned to his alma mater, Aurora West. He served as an assistant coach under Gordon Kerkman this past winter.

To get an idea of what kind of talent he’ll be working with, Bryant plans to hold a basketball camp in July. The camp will serve to give him a look at the kids he will be working with this coming season, he said.

When asked about what he will change in Hononegah’s basketball program, Bryant said he would “change the defense to push the ball a little bit and keep the offense off-balance.”