Dorrian Randolph’s first high school basketball head coaching job happened in the area where he got his start.
Randolph, Eastside’s new head boys basketball coach, spent his early years in education at Edwards Middle School in neighboring Rockdale County. He returned to Rockdale for the 2019-20 season as associate head coach at Salem, then jumped at the opportunity to become a head coach for the first time in Newton County.
He replaces Michael Gerald, who had a 17-9 record as Eastside’s head coach in 2019-20.
“Last year I coached at Salem in the same region as Eastside, so I had a personal, first-hand account of Eastside and the program and the great things they were doing, some of the athletes they have,” Randolph said. “Once the job came open, it was a no-brainer to apply there.”
After teaching and coaching at Edwards Middle from 2010-13, Randolph left the area for an assistant coaching job at Eagle’s Landing. He served as head junior varsity coach and a varsity assistant at the Henry County school.
He kept his focus on becoming a head coach from the time he entered high school coaching.
“That was the goal, (to be head coach) every year in high school, even after Year 1 at Eagle’s Landing, I always let my head coach know I always aspired to be a head coach,” Randolph said. “Every year I would check Kyle Sandy’s (job) page to see what’s out there.”
Eastside offered an intriguing opportunity for a number of reasons, on and off the basketball court. He inherits a team with young talent, including Jaylen Lelie-Johnson, Miokaye Grant and Chauncey Wiggins. Grant, at 6-foot-6, and Wiggins, at 6-8, are both rising juniors.
“I just liked the program, the atmosphere, the crowds they traveled with,” Randolph said. “I heard good things about the school and the leadership at the school. I also knew they had some good young players who were up and coming. They have a great nucleus of young players. I knew this job would be a great one if it became available.”
Randolph grew up in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he was known more as a football player. He played two seasons of high school basketball, but earned a football scholarship to Alabama State.
“I realized I was a better football player (than basketball player),” said Randolph, who has coached both basketball and football throughout his time in education. “Football could take me to school, so I had to let basketball take a break.”
His football background influenced his basketball coaching style, particularly on defense.
“I’m a defensive guy,” Randolph said. “Offense is what the game was made on, being able to put the ball in the basket, but it requires more effort on the defensive end. You play hard-nosed defense, aggressive, in your face. I like man-to-man defense. … Offensively, I believe in spacing the floor. I plan to play fast. But I’ve got to get in there, see what we have.”