High school basketball: Leo hires Jimalle Ridley as basketball coach

The fall coaching carousel has likely come to a close. The last major job left to be filled was at Leo and the South Side Catholic school made a hire on Thursday.

Jimalle Ridley, 33, is Leo’s new coach. It’s the first head coaching job for Ridley, who has been an assistant at Young, Phillips and Orr and was the director of basketball operations at UIC under Steve McClain.

“This is a school that specializes in developing young black men,” Ridley said. “That’s what they focus on. To be a part of that is an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”

Ridley, a De La Salle graduate, had originally planned to take this year off from coaching and figure out his next move, but some events this summer swayed his mind.

Norvell Meadows and Marquise Pryor, two players Ridley coached at Orr, were shot and killed this summer.

“After what happened to Norvell Meadows and Marquise Pryor my juices got going,” Ridley. “I didn’t think I could pass up and opportunity to help impact these young men.”

Jamal Thompson resigned as Leo coach last month. That led to several of the Lions’ top players transferring. Leo was expected to be a preseason Super 25 team, but that is no longer the case.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” Ridley said. “But I don’t really care about that. We are going to have some good days and bad days like every team does.

“[Thompson] leaving was a shock to a lot of people. I’m stepping in a month before the season begins. But I’m prepared for this.”

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