Clyburn bringing pro ball thinking to Panthers’ Den

Former OPHS ace takes over

By Randy Lefko
Posted 11/23/17

ORANGE PARK – In his heyday as an Orange Park High Raider basketball star, Jerome Clyburn (2008) was known for his high-speed assaults downcourt that lead to points via pass or shot and records of …

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Clyburn bringing pro ball thinking to Panthers’ Den

Former OPHS ace takes over

Posted

ORANGE PARK – In his heyday as an Orange Park High Raider basketball star, Jerome Clyburn (2008) was known for his high-speed assaults downcourt that lead to points via pass or shot and records of 25-2 in 2008 and 23-6 in 2007 under fiery head coach Daryl Lauderdale. The Raiders, 70-15 with Clyburn a three-year starter at guard, were district 1-6A champions in 2008 with a region final loss to Winter Springs their season-ender and district runnerups in 2007 with a region quarterfinal loss to Flagler Palm Coast. Clyburn was a first team All State selection his senior year.

“I knew coach Lauderdale was pushing me and yelling at me because he loved me,” said Clyburn, who takes over at Ridgeview High School in his second coaching foray in Clay County.

“I remember as a sophomore, he chased me all the way down the court yelling for me to pass the ball and I took it to score. He shook his head into the locker room and I thought he was mad at me for shooting, but he was upset that I didn’t listen to him more. That was a big lesson of trust.”

Clyburn, was the junior varsity coach at Middleburg last year, was summoned to coach the Ridgeview varsity in 2107 after superb years from 2011 through 2013 under coach Rob Feltner before falling to single digit wins since under a handful of coaches. Coaching with Clyburn will be former Clay High quarterback and basketball player Ulysses “Boobie” Tobler, who is the quarterback coach for the Blue Devils as they head deeper into the football region playoffs.

“I want to bring back the history of Ridgeview because I remember Charlie Gilbert in this gym was a great rivalry,” said Clyburn. “Last year, I had a pretty good year at Middleburg with eight wins and it was athletic director Alan Powers at Middleburg that kind of gave me permission to give the Ridgeview job a shot. He said he didn’t want to let me go, but saw the opportunity for me.”

After graduating Orange Park, Clyburn played two years at the University of Southern Mississippi though Clyburn suffered through a broken foot and saw minor playing time.

“I was a practice team dummy and then I broke my foot,” said Clyburn. “It was actually a good experience because I saw the level of talent at the next level.”

Clyburn eventually left Southern Mississippi to return closer to home and began playing at Santa Fe Community College before finishing at Austin Peay State. At both colleges, Clyburn excelled with top scoring averages and assists at both schools; 13.5 points, 4.2 assists at Santa Fe; 7.9 points, 3.5 assists at Austin Peay, that brought him home to play for two championship rings with the Jacksonville Giants of the American Basketball Association.

“At the college level, it was my mom, Jackie, who kept me mentally strong and motivated to keep going despite the injuries,” said Clyburn. “I liked being home when I was at Santa Fe and she just pushed me to fight through it all and keep moving forward.”

Clyburn, who was the Giants newcomer of the year when he arrived, will again team with ex-Raider teammate Clarence Tillman for the Giants, who open their 2018 season on December 15 at the Jacksonville Memorial Arena. Tillman played at St. Johns River Community College after his 2008 graduation.

“He’s got one ring, I have two with the Giants from two of the three national titles they have won,” said Clyburn.

At Austin Peay, Clyburn was immediately thrust into the starting line for the 2012 season and, just as fast, excelled starting 12 of the first 13 games with five assists and 11 points in his first college start against Middle Tennessee State. Clyburn continued to average five or more assists in his first five college games.

As for Ridgeview, Clyburn, on day one on Tuesday, had his troops pushing out 200-plus pushups on the floor for two mistakes during drills.

“I see mistakes in practice and, if guys laugh and mess around in practice, that tells me something about their character and that’s not going to make it with me,” said Clyburn “I do see guys wanting to make the program better knowing the history of the school and it will take the entire team working together. I want the guys to come in caring more about the team’s success then their stats. They want to be back on top.”

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