Matthews, N.C. - One of the top basketball coaches in the Magnolia State is gaining recognition for his role in continuing the long-standing tradition of success at Northeast Mississippi Community College.
Cord Wright, who is about to begin his sixth year as headman of the Tigers, was listed as one of the "hot junior college coaches" in the country by the Basketball Times.
"Northeast has traditionally had a strong program. That enables people to want to look at you," said Wright. "Along those lines, we've been able to recruit well and win games. We've got good players and as a coach we all know that goes hand-in-hand.
"It's all because of the foundation that's been laid here. Northeast has a beautiful campus and we have good facilities and a winning tradition. I'm just excited to continue to put a good brand out there."
Wright was one of only 55 coaches from more than 300 combined institutions in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I ranks as well as the independent California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) to receive this prestigious acknowledgement.
The Basketball Times compiled its poll partially on consultation with coaches at both two-year and four-year colleges across the United States. Wright and his colleagues were chosen based upon the belief that they could thrive in head or assistant coaching positions on the NCAA Division I stage.
"Obviously I'm very excited," Wright said. "It's an award that I wouldn't have gotten without the good coaching staff and players that have been involved. Hopefully we can continue to get even better."
Wright already has experience at the highest level of amateur hoops after spending three years as an assistant at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. He also helped the University of North Alabama capture two NCAA Division II Tournament berths from 2006-07.
The Lafayette, La., native has excelled since arriving in the City of Hospitality prior to the start of the 2013-14 campaign. He has compiled 80 wins against just 53 losses during his initial five seasons with the Tigers.
Wright has guided Northeast to at least the semifinal round of the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) State Tournament, the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament or both events in each of the last four years.
The Tigers have captured two major championships under the direction of Wright. The most recent was the 2017 MACJC North Division title, which was the 16th divisional crown in school history.
Northeast returned to its home away from home in Hutchinson, Kan., one year earlier after claiming the 2016 NJCAA Region 23 Tournament championship during Wright's third season at the helm.
It punched the Tigers' ticket to the NJCAA Division I National Tournament at the historic Sports Arena for a ninth time overall, which is more appearances than any other program in the MACJC and NJCAA Region 23.
Northeast has been nationally ranked at some point during three consecutive seasons. The Tigers were rated as high as No. 21 by the NJCAA during its 19-win 2017-18 campaign.
Wright has a proven track record of sending Northeast student-athletes to the next level. Three former Tigers participated in March Madness last winter, including Leroy Buchanan at Murray State (Ky.) University, Shunn Buchanan from New Mexico State University and Wesley Harris at West Virginia University.
Nine total Northeast standouts have advanced their careers over the last two seasons, including Bryant Givens and Bryce Smith at NCAA Division II affiliates Columbus State (Ga.) University and Valdosta State (Ga.) University plus Darius Williams at Talladega (Ala.) College in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
"A lot of schools want to sell kids moving on and ours are doing that," said Wright. "Our guys are moving on and having extreme success. They're also turning into awesome young men. We're very, very excited about that."
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Northeast begins the 2018-19 campaign on Tuesday, November 6 against Faith (Ark.) Preparatory Academy. That game immediately follows the conclusion of the Lady Tigers' season opener versus Wallace State (Ala.) Community College at Hanceville inside legendary Bonner Arnold Coliseum.