Starkville hires six-time champ Carlyle as boys basketball coach

Anthony Carlyle, who has led three different programs to state championships, has been hired to lead the Starkville boys basketball team.

Carlyle won four state titles at Velma Jackson, one at Columbus, and one at his most recent stop, Yazoo City. The Indians won the Class 4A title in 2023, and they reached the 5A final this past season, losing to Canton.

Carlyle, 39, said that after talking to school district superintendent Tony McGee about the job, he was sold.

“‘[H]earing his vision and his plans, what he wants to do for the district, and just his enthusiasm for the athletic program, I could tell within the first five minutes of talking with him that Starkville was a place I wanted to be,” Carlyle said.

Starkville fired Woodie Howard in April after three seasons. The Yellow Jackets went 61-22 on his watch and reached the quarterfinals of the Class 7A playoffs this past season.

Howard’s dismissal has not sat well with many of the players, and Carlyle recognizes that he will now have to sell himself to them.

“I know there’s been a lot of emotions over the last couple of weeks,” he said. “It’s been on social media that some guys may potentially leave, but hopefully now that they know that they have a new coach coming in, they’ll give me a fair shot to get a chance to meet them and develop a relationship and continue to build off the success that they already did last year, just continue to move forward.”

Carlyle is the son of the late Archie Carlyle, who won seven combined state championships as both a boys and girls basketball coach during a 45-year career.

Anthony Carlyle was head coach at Velma Jackson for seven seasons (2011-17). His teams won titles in 2013, ’14, ’15 and ’17. He then went to Columbus and won a championship there in 2018.

He has been a Yazoo City the past six years. Carlyle said there were common threats that ran through all of his title teams.

“You’ve definitely got to have talent. And then you’ve got to have guys that are willing to work hard, guys that are willing to listen and believe in the things that you’re teaching them and showing them on a daily basis a will to win. All championship teams have that same DNA. I’ve been blessed thus far in my career to have a great group of guys, and I hope to continue that at Starkville.”

Carlyle said he plans to speak with Starkville’s players within the next few days.