Basketball coach, students reflect on upcoming transfer to Walnut Grove

Jake Garner, alongside student athletes, discuss their futures at new high school


Parker Mann

Standing at center court, PHS coach Jake Garner focuses on the game against Rock Hill. Garner has been named head coach of the new PISD school, Walnut Grove. “My first year (at PHS) we went to the regional tournament, so that was a great experience,” Garner said. “And then, really getting to know the different teachers and other coaches and admin here at PHS was pretty fun.”

As the final buzzer blares and the team members take in their final moments on the court, the Prosper Eagles conclude their 2022-23 season with a 79-61 win over McKinney Boyd Feb. 14. Prosper’s varsity boys basketball team finished the season 15-18 and 7-7 in the district as they were led by head coach, Jonathan Ellis, and assistant coach, Jake Garner.

Prosper ISD basketball will face changes in the fall of 2023 as the new high school, Walnut Grove, will open, bringing in Garner from PHS as the head basketball coach.

“I’ve always been attached to this place,” Garner said. “I know the coaches, the different people that work here (and) the admin, so I know people that are going over there, but it’s a new school, new environment. Everything’s brand new, the building and the experience itself.”

Handling the ball, sophomore BJ Scott, moves into the offense. Scott was a 2022 5-6A Honorable Mention All-District athlete this season. Scott will be a junior, going to Walnut Grove in the fall of 2023. (Parker Mann)

Current juniors can choose which school they will spend their senior year at, but sophomores, freshmen, and eighth graders have been zoned based on where they live.

“Being the first to go there will be different, (especially) being in that (new) atmosphere,” sophomore BJ Scott said. “But it’s going to be (somewhat) the same, since it’s going to be people (I) have played with before, people from Rock Hill, people (I’ve) known almost all (my) life.”

Both 2022 5-6A Academic All-District athletes, Scott and teammate Parker Evanson, will take their talents to the new campus alongside other Prosper student-athletes.

“I think it’s a good way to start a new program to push ourselves,” Evanson said. “I’m looking forward to playing new teams, new people and just starting a new program.”

Garner has been Prosper basketball’s varsity assistant coach for the last two years, and now looks forward to inaugurating Walnut Grove’s basketball program with qualities he would like to maintain.

“It’s my belief that the team and a program is a reflection of their coach,” Garner said. “Our motto is going to be TDG, which is toughness, discipline and grit, and so those are the three things that are going to be the foundation of what we do.”

Next school year will mark Garner’s 10th year coaching basketball. He has been with Prosper High School for the past six years.

“It might be a little bit more difficult (to go to Walnut Grove) since we have to play with players that we haven’t played with before,” freshman Chase Brookes said. “But, I’m happy because we get to play together.”

Eyes down the court, Prosper’s varsity team shows encouragement following a successful play. One difference the athletes will face is moving down to the 5A district. “I think it’ll be different,” sophomore Atteson Reeves said. “We’re leaving a lot of our friends.” (Isabel Multer)

Bringing kids from across Prosper together to get involved in these new opportunities brings optimism to many students as they get to experience a new school while staying in the same town.

“We get to meet new people and build chemistry with other friends,” sophomore Atteson Reeves said. “(In basketball,) we have to learn new players and play styles.”

Having a familiar face as a coach in a new setting has also been meaningful to this team.

“What I’ve learned is that we have really, really good kids at Prosper,” Garner said. “I think a lot of times people want to say the younger generation right now doesn’t work hard, is lazy, or they make a lot of blanket statements, (but) I don’t see that on a daily basis from Prosper kids.”

Eyes on the basket, Parker Evanson takes a free throw shot. This season Evanson was recognized as 2022 5-6A sophomore newcomer of the year. “It’s going to be different because it’s just a whole new school,” Evanson said. “And then, we only have two years left. (Parker Mann)

Garner has been able to move up with the classes he has coached over the years, which has been a special aspect to him since getting his new role in PISD.

“Coming up with different classes, like our current seniors, I coached when they were freshman and then I coached them as sophomores on JV and then when they were juniors I became the varsity assistant,” Garner said. “So just moving up through the different classes has been fun.”

Expanding PISD to three high schools is a milestone that teachers, students, and admin continue to look forward to.

“Leaving this place is tough,” Garner said. “But, I wouldn’t have wanted to go to Walnut Grove if I didn’t think it’d be a great experience.”