Coaches Return With College Knowledge

By Tom Markowski
Special for Second Half

February 24, 2016

North Farmington boys basketball coach Todd Negoshian is not so vain to believe he’s at the top of his profession.

After all, he’s nearing just his fifth season running what is considered one of the top programs in the Oakland Activities Association.

What Negoshian is certain of is that he is a better coach now than he was during the early 2000s when he entered the profession as an assistant at North Farmington under his father, Tom Negoshian.

In addition to Todd Negoshian’s years as a high school coach, he spent three seasons (2004-07) as an assistant coach at Oakland University under coach Greg Kampe. Having worked at the college level has not only added to his knowledge as a coach but also given him an opportunity to work with different people under different circumstances but with similar goals.

“I learned a lot from Kampe,” Negoshian said. “I learned a lot about relationships. He has the uncanny ability to (scold) a kid and then 30 seconds later have your arms around him. It’s about building relationships.

“It’s his approach to coaching. There’s so many things you learned outside of coaching.”

This brief stint at the collegiate level gave Negoshian, 35, a whole new perspective on how to coach and how to be a coach. Building relationships takes time, and to those committed to being a coach who cares about his or her players, it’s paramount to allow for that time.

Some coaches, like John Beilein at University of Michigan, start out coaching at the high school level, move on to college and remain there. A number of others statewide have taken paths similar to that of Negoshian.

LaMonta Stone at River Rouge and Steve Hall at Detroit Cass Tech started coaching at the high school level and have recently returned to their roots after each spent several years as a college coach.

Stone played for the legendary Lofton Greene at River Rouge and then coached the Panthers to a Class B title in 1999. Stone ambitiously sought a position at the next level and was quite successful. He spent two seasons at Eastern Michigan, two at Ohio State and 10 at Bowling Green before returning to River Rouge last season as head coach.

And he has no regrets.

“At that point, I had goals,” Stone said of making the jump to college. “There were things I wanted to do. I still have goals. People ask me, would I go back to college? I don’t know. If the situation was right, I might.”

Stone, 49, returned for two reasons: family and community. Last season he was able to coach his oldest son, LaMonta, Jr., his senior year. Stone also has two other sons, ages 6 and 9.

Basketball is king in River Rouge. Greene won a record 12 MHSAA titles and the program has won two more since his departure. But the Panthers relinquished their claim as a state power soon after Stone left and haven’t been much of a factor in the tournament since. Stone intends on changing that.

“It’s a situation where, I’d been (coaching in college) for 14 years,” he said. “I’d reached all my goals. The only one I didn’t was to become a head coach. But you’re an assistant in the Big Ten. You can’t get much higher than that.

“The opportunity to come back to that community, I just couldn’t pass up. I get to be more of a part of my sons’ lives.”

In addition to the high school season, Stone said he enjoys coaching during the summer, in camps and individually.

“I can, within the (Michigan High School Athletic Association) rules, work with kids outside of Rouge,” he said. “I get calls all the time saying can you work with my son. I work with them but they can’t come to Rouge. I like it that way. There’s no pressure on me or them.”

Hall, 45, was one of the state’s top players when he graduated from Cass Tech in 1988. He played four years in college (Washington, Virginia Tech) before playing professionally overseas. In 1996 he became the head coach at Detroit Rogers, an all-boys school in the Detroit Public School League. Hall spent nine seasons there and won three MHSAA titles before the school closed.

Hall went to Detroit Northwestern in 2005 and spent three seasons there, winning one PSL title, before accepting a position as an assistant coach at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.  He spent four seasons there before becoming an assistant coach at Youngstown State. On Aug. 25, Hall officially came back to Detroit as athletic director and boys basketball coach at Cass Tech.

Like Stone, Hall was looking for a more stable lifestyle. Family came first, and the opportunity to coach his alma mater was too good to pass up.

“A lot had to do with my life at this stage,” he said. “I have two young boys (ages 7 and 4) and to be more a part of their lives is important. If I wanted to spend time with them, we’d go to a game where I was recruiting a kid and that would be our time together on that given day.

“And I have a passion for this school. This whole year has been learning on the fly. At Rogers there was a lack of numbers. Here football is huge. We didn’t have a football team at Rogers. And here I have a surplus of numbers. It’s a different dynamic. Rogers was the smallest school in the PSL by enrollment. Cass is the biggest.”

Hall said he doesn’t miss the hours of travelling on the road, going into countless gymnasiums recruiting players and trying to convince them and their coaches that his university was the right one. It’s not that his responsibilities as athletic director and coach are less demanding. But being able to go home every night and see his children and sleep in his bed has its rewards.

Hall said he had more than a few conversations with Stone on returning home.

All three coaches agree that experience has its benefits. It’s not that coaching is any easier at this time. The challenges are still there and in many ways demand different approaches.

“Every stop makes you better,” Negoshian said. “Anytime you coach kids, the more you are around them, it helps.

“The game has changed. Society changed. Kids don’t want to fight through tough times. That’s why you see so many transfers. Everybody wants to be the hero. They want the focus on them. And it’s just not them. It’s the family. I’m not sure all of the parents are committed. They don’t want to go to A, B and C to get to D.”

Hall said the expectations for incoming freshmen and their parents are so different than it was when he was in high school. Then students went to a certain school, whether it was a power like Detroit Southwestern or a neighborhood school like Detroit Mumford, to be a part of an established program.

“It’s a trickle down from college,” Hall said. “It’s not, ‘I want to send my kid to a great program.’ There’s the attitude that if my son isn’t a part of it as a freshman, I’ll go somewhere else instead of being part of the process.”

Tom Markowski is a columnist and directs website coverage for the State Champs! Sports Network. He previously covered primarily high school sports for the The Detroit News from 1984-2014, focusing on the Detroit area and contributing to statewide coverage of football and basketball. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Current River Rouge boys basketball coach LaMonta Stone returned to his alma mater after serving as a college assistant including at Bowling Green. (Middle) Todd Negoshian, LaMonta Stone, Steve Hall. (Top photo courtesy of LaMonta Stone.)

St. Clair County Celebrates 1st Mr. Basketball Winner, PHN's Jamison

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

March 29, 2023

The Jamison family has spent plenty of time over the years driving long distances as Tyler chased his basketball dreams.

Bay & ThumbAfter the Port Huron Northern senior achieved one of the biggest ones, they had to put some more mileage on the family vehicle.

As the newly-crowned Mr. Basketball, Jamison was invited to a special presentation during the Boys Basketball Finals this past Saturday afternoon at the Breslin Center. It was an invitation Tyler and his family didn’t hesitate to accept, and the drive from Port Huron to East Lansing was nothing.

But it did cause a pretty big change to some other travel plans.

Tyler and his family were scheduled to fly to Florida on Friday for spring break. That flight had to be canceled, though, and instead, the family made the drive down later.

“There were some jokes about just leaving me and letting me find my own way down there,” Jamison said.

While they joke, there’s nowhere the Jamisons would have rather been Saturday than at the Breslin. As a true basketball family – Tyler’s dad Brian is also the coach at Northern, and his brother Alex was a standout freshman for the Huskies – they have a great appreciation for the Mr. Basketball Award and its significance.

“I had said a while ago, ‘Hey, if we’re still in the tournament, we’ll be playing Friday,” Brian Jamison said. “I even mentioned that it would be a miracle, but Tyler could win Mr. Basketball. Now we’re eating plane tickets and driving down to Florida. But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we’re not missing this.”

Jamison was the overwhelming winner of the award, which is named after Hal Schram and given out by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan. He received 3,058 points in the vote to become its 43rd winner. Curtis Williams of Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (2,004 points), Kaden Brown of Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1,918), Sonny Wilson of Detroit U-D Jesuit (1,883) and Ryan Hurst of North Farmington (1,811) were the other finalists.

“It was just insane,” Tyler Jamison said. “I can’t even really put into words how I felt – it was just a dream come true, a culmination of all the hard work that’s been put in over the years. My mom was in the other room (when his dad called to tell him), and I just hugged her and we were kind of screaming. The dog was getting riled up. It was fun. There were a few tears shed.”

Jamison throws down a dunk.Jamison, who signed with Fairleigh Dickinson in December, finished the season averaging 26.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game. He was named the Macomb Area Conference White division MVP after leading Northern to the league title and a 20-4 overall record.

Even with all that, winning the most prestigious individual basketball award in the state didn’t seem like a reality.

“We purposely try to play a tough schedule, and we purposely got into some showcases because we wanted people to see, not only him play, but us play,” Brian Jamison said. “We had beaten Skyline and Hamtramck, and went up to Croswell-Lexington and won up there, and I thought, ‘OK, now he’s done it against some of the better teams.’ Up to that point, when we played those tougher teams, he’s always showed out well, but it’s different when you’re not winning them. But at that point, I thought he had a chance. Really, I was just hoping he would get on the list. To win it was kind of above and beyond what I had hoped for.”

On the court, Tyler’s impact on the program was pretty obvious and immediate.

He’s the program’s all-time leading scorer – a record he set as a junior – with 1,763 career points. He also holds Northern records for career rebounds (825), points in a game (59), rebounds in a game (28), career field goals made (638) and career free throws made (439). As a junior, he was named MAC Blue MVP.

Northern did not lose a league game in either of the past two seasons.

But Northern is likely to see future success because of Tyler’s non-statistical impact.

Leading a young team, including a group of star freshmen – his brother Alex, Cam Harju and Amir Morelan – was a major part of Tyler’s job this season.

Northern’s home games were must-see events this winter, as the Huskies were one of Division 1’s top teams, and Tyler was providing nightly highlights and must-see performances. Even in his final game, a loss against Macomb Dakota in the District Final, Jamison treated the standing-room crowd with a 46-point performance and a halfcourt shot at the third-quarter buzzer in a valiant effort.

“That’s the big thing, you want the students and the school community to support you, and they did an amazing job,” Tyler Jamison said. “We also had people from the community that wanted to support us and watch us play. Port Huron High had a really good season, too, and I think both schools in the city had that public support. That’s huge. It makes you feel like you’re playing for more than yourself.”

Among those crowds were the next generation of Huskies, some of whom were coached by Tyler in youth basketball. As he’s the first Mr. Basketball winner from St. Clair County, those kids now have a hometown example of someone who has reached the highest heights.

“I think interest gets sparked when the little kids come to the gym, like, ‘Hey, I want to do that,’” Brian Jamison said. “They want to play for Northern or (Port Huron) High. And with him winning Mr. Basketball, I think it gives kids a little bit of ‘Hey, why not me?’ I do think it helps motivate younger people. We’ve had great crowds at our games. I think the area is excited about basketball. It really is a great basketball area.”

With all of that excitement surrounding him, Tyler had one more challenge after the season – keeping the secret that he had won. He found out six days before the award was announced.

“It was terrible – especially when it’s something of that magnitude,” he said. “You want to tell everyone. You want to tell your friends and family. It was hard to be like, ‘No, I don’t know.’”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Tyler Jamison, second from left, with his parents and brother, stands with his newly-received Mr. Basketball Award trophy during the ceremony at the Detroit Free Press. (Middle) Jamison throws down a dunk. (Photos courtesy of the Jamison family.)