HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: OHS promotes Lewis to head basketball coach

To replace Neal Welch, the Odessa High Bronchos have turned to a man who is no stranger to the basketball program.

The Bronchos have promoted from within as assistant coach Jermil Lewis will now be taking over as the head coach, the school announced this week.

Lewis has been the assistant coach of the Bronchos for the last five seasons.

“I’m definitely excited about it,” Lewis said. “It’s always something I’ve wanted to do since I graduated back in 2005 from Odessa High. I’ve wanted to come back and be the head coach some day and now it’s finally come true.”

Lewis is a former OHS basketball player who graduated from high school in 2005.

He always knew that he would eventually be the head coach for his alma mater.

“It’s definitely full-circle,” Lewis said. “I remember it like it was yesterday. Now, it’s my turn to lead these young men and help them be successful in life. … As a player, you always have dreams of being able to continue playing but once I knew that I was done (playing), I knew I wanted to be the head coach at Odessa High.”

Lewis replaces Welch, who recently announced that he was leaving to take over as the head boys basketball coach in Weatherford after four years at OHS.

Lewis inherits a program that is coming off consecutive state playoff appearances which also included bi-district titles in 2022 and ’23.

This past season, the Bronchos went 22-15 overall and 6-4 in District 2-6A.

Odessa High defeated El Paso Coronado, 86-53, in the bi-district round before falling to North Crowley in the area round, 62-41.

The Bronchos are losing three seniors from this past season but Lewis is hoping for seven players to return on varsity.

“You never know,” Lewis said. “Each team is different. Each year is different. You never know who’s going to return but we had a good year last year and we’re looking forward to continuing some of the success we’ve had.”

However, being the assistant for the past five years, Lewis says it helps that there’s plenty of familiarity between him and the players.

“It makes it easier but I have to let them know that there’s a different side to head coach Lewis than there is to assistant coach Lewis,” Lewis said. “They understand that and I think they’re ready to work.”

He’s thankful for the help Welch has given him over the years in preparing to be a head coach.

“Coach Welch taught me a lot and I feel like I can continue the success we’ve had,” Lewis said. “Every year is different and I look forward to continue the success and keep us in the right direction.”

He stepped in as the head coach for Welch a few games during the 2020-21 season when COVID sidelined some of the members of the coaching staff.

“Those things helped me prepare for the job, like stepping in for coach Welch when he had COVID,” Lewis said. “I had to be a coach without a staff because we had two coaches out. It was a different experience. But Welch has given me a lot of help over the years so I’m ready to step in and continue the success that we’ve had.”

Prior to being the assistant coach at OHS, Lewis coached at Latter Rain Christian from 2014-16 and at Crockett Middle School from 2016-18.