Lakota West boys basketball coach Jim Leon will not return next season

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Longtime coach has more than 500 career wins coaching boys and girls basketball

WEST CHESTER TWP. — Lakota West High School has decided on going in a new direction for the boys basketball program’s head coaching leadership.

Lakota West coach Jim Leon, who has coached the Firebirds the past five seasons, will not return to the program next season. Lakota West appeared in two district finals during Leon’s time as head coach.

The longtime Greater Cincinnati coach said he has no regrets during his time in West Chester and is proud of how the Firebirds competed in the Greater Miami Conference and beyond.

“It was a good five years,” Leon said. “I think we improved the program.”

The Firebirds had an 8-16 overall record, including 6-10 in the GMC this season. Lakota West had seven losses by five points or less.

Leon said there were significant expectations going into this season that included a tougher regular season schedule, but ultimately the results didn’t come together as was hoped.

Lakota West Athletic Director Scott Kaufman said the search for a new head coach will begin immediately. Kaufman said he enjoyed working with Leon the past five seasons.

“I consider Jimmy a great friend,” Lakota West athletic director Scott Kaufman said. “This was a really hard decision to make. I’m grateful for our relationship. I very much appreciate the commitment he made to our kids and the school over the past five seasons.”

Leon has more than 500 career wins in high school basketball (boys and girls basketball combined), earning the milestone victory in February 2022. He started his high school basketball head coaching career with the Woodward boys program in 1989-90.

Leon was at Woodward when the Bulldogs were the Division I state champion in 1988, a Division I state semifinalist in 1989 and a state runner-up in 1990.

Leon led Woodward to three city titles, 10 consecutive league titles and hired now-UCLA men’s basketball coach Mick Cronin as an assistant.

Leon said he would like to continue coaching high school basketball. For now, he will follow Cronin and UCLA with the hopes of following the Bruins when they play in the NCAA tournament.

Leon arrived at Lakota West in May 2018 and led the Firebirds to a 14-12 record in his second season with a district final appearance.

Prior to Lakota West, he also coached at Mariemont and started the Clark Montessori boys’ basketball program and led the Cougars to a league championship in 2006 and ‘07. He coached the St. Ursula basketball program from 2010 to 2015.

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