New Montclair High School boys hoops coach pleased with what he sees from his team
It's been about a month since Cecil Stinson was named Montclair High School boys head basketball coach, and he has been off and running.
Right after being tabbed to replace Gary Wallace, Stinson met with the team, on June 27.
"We addressed the importance of academics and what we'd like to accomplish during this off-season," he said. "But most importantly I wanted them to know that myself and our staff have their back."
He added that he told them about his own experience of coaching changes when he played in college at Southeastern Community College and then three seasons at Post University, up until 2011.
"I know what it's like to go through a coaching change," Stinson said. "I experienced it while playing college ball. I wanted them to know that our staff will be available and that we are committed to building strong relationships, that is our culture. And I think it’s working out pretty well so far."
Stinson graduated from Montclair High School in 2006 after scoring more than a thousand points in his Mountie career.
The new coach admitted he never thought when he was playing at Montclair and then in college about coaching at his alma mater.
"When I graduated from Montclair, coaching back in Montclair never crossed my mind," he said. "At the time I was still focused on playing. But I will say, having the opportunity to coach where you have put blood, sweat and tears is an opportunity. I'll be forever grateful for it. I'm humbled by this and blessed. When you are home, it’s different."
On the same night that the Montclair Board of Education approved Stinson, June 20, the boys team started competing in the Bloomfield Summer League.
"So far I have been pleased with our energy and effort," Stinson said. "Our goal has been to communicate positively, get guys to play faster on both sides of the ball and defend. My main focus right now is communication and the defensive end of the floor."
As of this week, Montclair had received a bye in the first round of the Bloomfield Summer League playoffs. "Being in the playoffs helps tremendously," he said. "Naturally the competition will get stiffer, and the guys will be put into more pressure situations. These experiences will pay off come the season."
The teams in the Bloomfield Summer League Tournament include Super Essex Conference rival Seton Hall Prep, Bloomfield, Newark West Side, Caldwell and Nutley.
Stinson, who is a security guard/operational aide at Glenfield Middle School, heard about the head coach position through a districtwide email on job openings.
Stinson, who was head coach at Cristo Rey in Newark (formerly Christ the King High School) the last few years, takes over for Wallace, who led the program the last six seasons. In 2021-22 Montclair went 6-16 but was hampered early on because of a COVID-19 shutdown.
Stinson and Wallace grew up together in Montclair. "We have competed with and against each other throughout grade school," Stinson said. "I have spoken to coach Wallace a few times since I have been named head coach. Gary has been great in helping in any way to make this transition as smooth as possible."
Wallace said at the time of the Montclair school board’s approval that he thought it was a good hire. "They are in good hands,” he said. “He is definitely a basketball guru."
Montclair faced Christ the King a couple of times over the years. "We always wanted to coach against each other," Wallace said.
In addition to the Bloomfield Summer League, Stinson and his assistant coach, Derek Dorch, a Montclair alum from 2005, are running Bobby Hurt's Basketball 101 Skills Camp at Montclair High School.
For more information on the camp, which runs until Aug. 5, go to montclairpal.leagueapps.com.