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J. Larry Ladner photo
J. Larry Ladner photo
J. Larry Ladner
Hometown: Picayune, MS
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Coach J. Larry Ladner was known as the “Ambassador of Basketball” for the state of Mississippi as he led basketball programs at Picayune High and taught at Southern Miss. A native of Picayune, Coach Ladner graduated from Picayune High as a mult-sport letterman. An accomplished basketball player, Coach Ladner played for the Pearl River Junior College Wildcats from 1955 to 1957. His Pearl River teams finished fourth in his first season and was runner-up in the South Division in 1957. Coach Ladner would then star at Louisiana College for two seasons. He began his coaching career in 1960 at Picayune Memorial High and paced the Maroon Tide for 11 seasons until 1971. His basketball teams accumulated a record of 253 wins and 82 losses. During his time at Picayune, the Maroon Tide won the Big Eight title along with several district and South State crowns along with a state runner-up finish in 1969. Coach Ladner conducted the first ever high school Mississippi basketball camp in 1961 and he co-sponsored the first ever Pearl River Community College basketball camp in 1967. He served as an All-Star coach in the 1969 Mississippi High School All-Star game. Coach Ladner was named Coach of the Year in south Mississippi in 1966 as well as being named Young Educator of the Year by the Picayune Jaycees. In 1971, he was employed as basketball specialist for Southern Miss. Two years later, in 1973, he conducted the first girls’ basketball camp on the collegiate and university level in the southeastern United States. He was a 9-0 time nominee for the Excellence in Teaching Award at USM and received the Personalities of the South Award in 1976. The basketball camp at Hancock County is named in Coach Ladner’s honor. He was a four-time honorary head basketball coach for the Special Olympics and received three National Recognition Awards by the organization. In 1980, he was the first American basketball coach invited to conduct a coaching clinic in Venezuela and received special recognition for promoting basketball in the country. Coach Ladner has earned his nickname as Mississippi Ambassador of Basketball with his numerous publications and teachings on the sport as well as his more than 500 appearances as a speaker at clinics and banquets. In addition to his honors with the MAC, Coach Ladner was inducted into the Pearl River Community College Hall of Fame in 1988, the Mississippi Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1994, the Louisiana College Sports Hall of Fame in 1997, and the MACJC Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.