Dacula’s new head boys basketball coach brings a state championship pedigree.
The Falcons announced Friday that the high school’s new boys basketball leader is Derrick Herbert, an assistant at Norcross who helped the Blue Devils to the Class AAAAAAA state title in 2022. Herbert also won a state championship as Norcross’ starting point guard in 2011.
“Ms. (Jeannie) Hidalgo (Dacula principal) and I are thrilled with the outcome of our coaching search,” Dacula athletic director Daniel Garrett said. “Throughout the entire interview process, Coach Herbert displayed high levels of professionalism, knowledge of the game, attention to detail in his plans and evidence of a servant-leadership heart. We believe that he will be a tremendous positive addition to our school and community culture. We are happy to have him and his family become a part of the Dacula family, and we have a very optimistic outlook for the future of Dacula basketball under his leadership.”
Herbert, who played college basketball at Western Texas and Clark Atlanta, spent the past two seasons as an assistant to longtime Norcross head coach Jesse McMillan. The Blue Devils made the Final Four this past season after their 2022 state title run.
“Being at Norcross has just been very instrumental to my life,” Herbert said. “I think just the lessons I learned as a player under Coach Mac really shaped me as a person, just the seeds he planted in me in high school, seeing those come to life as I got older. As a coach, I don’t think there’s anybody better to learn under in Georgia high school than Coach Mac, how detail-oriented he is. I would say the main thing is how detail-oriented Coach Mac is and how he is prepared for any and every situation.
“Obviously, it helps when you have talent for sure, but he knows how to get the most out of guys and maximize their talent. Being at Norcross has meant so much to me. Coach Mac is a friend, he’s a mentor, he’s been somebody I’ve leaned on in every transition phase in my life.”
Prior being hired at Norcross, Herbert coached at the college level, first as an assistant at Augusta University from 2016 to 2018. He followed that with a stint as assistant coach and head junior varsity coach at Emmanuel College from 2018 to 2021. He also spent time with Blue Collar Basketball as the 17U head coach.
He brings that experience to a Dacula program that has enjoyed experience in the past, but had an up-and-down season in 2022-23, going 6-20.
“Dacula has everything you need to build a championship program and build something special,” Herbert said. “They have a supportive administration, Daniel Garrett, Principal Hidalgo and Zach Smith, they’re very supportive and wanting to get the program on the right track. I just think from a talent standpoint, Dacula has always had talent. I think they have a very supportive community. It’s always been my goal to be a head coach and I wanted to go somewhere where I have community support and Dacula has that.
“I’m just grateful and excited. My family is very excited to be a part of the Dacula community. Dacula is a special place and I’m just looking forward to doing some special things there and impacting guys’ lives and making them better people, and also winning some games and hanging up some banners.”
The roots of Herbert’s coaching career started as a high school player.
“After a Peachtree Ridge game, we won and I hit a tip-in for the win. Afterward, (the Daily Post) interviewed me and Coach Mac read the paper and said, ‘You shoudl be a coach one day. You sound like a coach. It’s always been in the back of my mind. After I got into college and realized I wasn’t going to play basketball for a living — and I still loved the game — I started thinking about coaching.”
Initially, that coaching journey went to the college level, but transitioned to high school when he returned to Norcross.
“Just the stability (of high school coaching),” Herbert said. “I was engaged and about to get married and college is just crazy with all the jumping around and moving. I knew I wanted some stability and high school was the best route to go.”
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