Girls basketball hires new coach, strives to build off past success

Archer Streelman

Martravious Little has replaced Dana Smith as the new girls basketball coach. This will be his first head coaching job. 

Little played collegiate basketball at Morehouse, a Division II HBCU. There, he started 17 out of 25 games as a sophomore guard, was named captain for three seasons and helped his team become fourth in the nation for Division II colleges in 2018. 

His senior year, Little suffered an injury with five games left in the season, and transitioned to the coaching staff as an assistant coach, specializing in defense. After graduating in 2018 and receiving a B.A. in Kinesiology, Little continued to coach at Morehouse for four years.

“The transition to being able to coach the players I was just on the court playing with, it was a transition that was easy for me,” Little said. “I was already a coach as a player, so the same vocals, the same energy that I used, I just transitioned it over to the bench, and my players respected that.” 

Now, in addition to working at Toomer Elementary as a full-time fifth grade teacher, Little coaches girls high school basketball. 

“I made a big change; I went from men’s basketball to women’s basketball,” Little said. “Mentally, I am preparing. This is my first year as a head coach, so I am getting myself going as well as trying to motivate girls. I read in some articles that they had an awesome year last year, so I am just here to build on that and make a winning culture here in Midtown.”

Assistant coach O’Niesha Smith has been at Midtown for two seasons. She believes Little’s mentality will help the team perform. 

“He’s great,” Smith said. “He has a championship mindset that he wants to bring to Midtown, changing the culture and creating a winning mindset. He is very exciting, bringing something fresh, something new. We just got started, but from just the first time I met him, we kind of clicked. We have the same coaching styles; we, of course, both have a basketball background; we have started bouncing ideas off each other, so it has been good so far.”

As an ex-collegiate player and coach, Little hopes to share his knowledge of the game and help girls with collegiate aspirations get recruited.  

“I will use my prior experience because now I know what it takes to play college basketball,” Little said. “I’m just bringing my college down to the high school level because I don’t know if my girls really understand that they have the capabilities or the ability to reach the next level and actually get their education paid for. By me transitioning from college to high school, that’s going to get them already a step ahead, so not only are they better high school players, they are getting ready for the college level.” 

Junior Briaiah Lewis has been on the team since her freshman year. Lewis believes Little’s connections at the collegiate level will help her with the recruiting process. 

“He seems really cool,” Lewis said. “He has played in college; so I am excited to see what he knows from that and playing on a collegiate level. He said he has resources to help me get into college for basketball.” 

Little hopes to implement an intense playing style and help increase the players’ fitness. 

“I get after it,” Little said. “My coaching style is a loving style, but we are up-tempo basketball; we are going to be a pressure team and, of course, in order to do all of that, we are going to have to be in shape.” 

The Midtown team hopes to capitalize on his defensive knowledge and collegiate experience. 

“He knows how the game works, and how we should play together,” Lewis said. “He said he is defensively oriented, which is a big thing in basketball. Defense wins games. I am excited to see his new concepts and for our team to have consistency. We have had a lot of different head coaches in the past ten years.” 

As a new coach in a new environment, Little wants to leave his mark and show the girls the potential they have. 

“My biggest goal this season is to get the girls to understand the culture, make a culture of competing at every cost and a culture of wanting to just go out and give your best,” Little said. Once we just get that mindset, that’s going to help us in the classroom; that’s going to help us on the basketball court, and that’s going to help us as people, just getting ready to compete and say I want to be the best I can be.”