PHILADELPHIA, Mo. -- Justin Ellison believes Marion County High School is the perfect place for him to take his first head coaching position.
Ellison, 25, was hired on Friday as the boys basketball coach. He replaces Ryan Wood, who guided Marion County to a 167-147 record in 12 seasons. Wood was named the coach at Palmyra High School last month.Marion County had a 17-9 record last season, losing 55-51 to LaPlata in the district semifinals at Madison.Ellison has been an assistant coach for the basketball and baseball teams at Highland High School for the last three years."(Marion County) is a small school, and that's ideal for me starting out for my first job," he said. "I feel like I'm ready."All of the coaches I've played for, whether it was Coach (Andy) Anderson at Canton or Coach (Brad) Hoyt at John Wood or Coach (Jack) Schrader at Culver-Stockton, I've learned from them all. They've prepared me for now. Even working with Coach (Brian) Leeser (at Highland) was great. He let me have a pretty big role as an assistant."Ellison was an all-district selection when he was a senior at Canton High School in 2009. He played one season at John Wood and one season at Culver-Stockton, where he averaged 4.9 points in 2011-12.He was hired at Highland after he graduated from C-SC, and he works with at-risk students. Ellison has lived in Canton while working in Highland but plans to move to Palmyra when he starts his job at Marion County."I've always liked the Marion County district and what Coach Wood has done for that school," he said."The biggest challenge at first is just the new environment. You might only have 11 or 12 kids who play, so you just have to get the most out of what everybody can give you. Coach Wood did a great job of that, and he even took them to the (Class 1) state quarterfinals (in 2012). They've guarded, they've rebounded and they do everything 110 percent."Ellison said he only told his parents on Friday about the new job as he waited for the official announcement on Monday."This is really awesome," he said. "It really set in today when I saw all of the talk on Twitter and Facebook. I've had all kinds of coaches texting me today. The support I've been getting is unbelievable."