After two years of coaching the East St. Louis High School boys basketball program, Phillip Gilbert has a new job and a new outlook.
Gilbert, 35, has been named athletic director at Madison High School, taking over for Gerard Moore, who earlier this spring was hired as the new boys basketball coach at Granite City High School.
“It’s an opportunity. It’s a new opportunity that I am blessed to have,” Gilbert said Friday “The administration and Superintendent Dr.Warletta Brookins are high on academics, first and foremost, but they are also high on athletics.
“Madison is a school rich in tradition. I am looking forward to the challenge of adding to that tradition through athletics.”
A 2000 graduate of East St. Louis, Gilbert takes over a Madison High School athletic department that recently hired hometown hero and longtime professional basketball player Maurice Baker to be its boys basketball coach. The Class 1A Trojans, who compete as an independent, will also field a varsity football program for the first time in nearly 30 years.
According to the Illinois High School Association guide, Madison last fielded a football program in the 1988-89 season. The school has been in a football co-op with Metro East Lutheran High School in Edwardsville during the past two years.
Former East St. Louis and Cahokia assistant coach Mike Hill has been named the Trojans football coach.
“The addition of Maurice (Baker), who I consider to be the best athlete ever to come out of Madison, and coach Mike Hill and his staff with the football program, I believe we are headed in the right direction,” Gilbert said. “Coach Hill, his staff and these kids are out here everyday working their tails off. My job is to make sure they have everything they need in order to be successful.”
Gilbert, who attended and played four years of college basketball at Bradley University, where he is the eighth leading scorer in school history, was relieved of his coaching duties at East St. Louis after leading the Flyers to an 18-8 record this past season. East St. Louis was 32-22 in Gilbert’s two years as coach.
But with Jeremiah Tilmon — then a 4-star prospect ranked 42nd nationally by Rivals.com — returning for his senior year after spending a year in prep school, expectations were high. Tilmon will be a freshman at the University of Missouri this year.
“We had Jeremiah Tilmon back, and so in the minds of a lot of people, we were supposed to win the state championship,” Gilbert said. “Our schedule was loaded. We lost eight games all year, and five or six of those were to teams who were ranked in the top five in the state.
“I told those kids and still tell them how proud I am of them. They gave me everything they had each night. I am very grateful to the administration of East St. Louis for giving me the opportunity to coach those kids. Of the 12 seniors who played for me in two years, 11 of them received basketball scholarships and have the opportunity to attend college and work towards their degrees. Isn’t that what it should be about?”
Gilbert will also be an assistant basketball coach with the boys program at Madison.