Lafayette Christian Academy boys basketball coach Byron Starks is no stranger to success.
From his senior year at Grambling High School when he scored 42 points in his team’s second consecutive state title victory to his career at Louisiana-Lafayette, where he earned Hall of Fame honors and sits as the No. 10 scorer in program history with 1,592 career points.
That’s exactly the way he planned it.
“It’s just like I tell my players, if you go out and you play hard and you perform well, you don’t’ have to chase anything,” Starks said. “Success and accomplishments will start to follow you.”
Staying true to his narrative, success did follow Starks to Lafayette Christian, which has accrued a 76-11 record and 34-2 district mark since he took the helm.
The Knights have yet to lose a district game since becoming a Class 1A school in 2013.
Starks earned the 2014 Class 1A Coach of the Year in his second year with Lafayette Christian after taking his team to the Top 28.
Now the Knights look to return to the state semifinals and this time beyond coming off a 27-3 season that earned them the No. 3 seed in the playoffs.
“Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve enjoyed being around the game,” Starks said. “I know what it has done for me, and the opportunity to let these kids experience some of those things that I’ve experienced is great.”
While coaching a team to a state championship seems to be the only thing Starks has yet to accomplish, it’s far from his first priority.
Starks wants to craft his players into leaders and men. The game of basketball is merely a conduit with which he can communicate his teachings.
This philosophy has led to a different coaching style that has allowed him to develop a special bond with his players and between his players.
“He doesn’t really focus on basketball as much as other coaches I’ve had,” said Lafayette Christian junior Kalob Ledoux. “He focuses on making you a better man in life. … We’re all a family. We all work together as a team and play as one. We love each other on and off the court. We’re a family.”
Lafayette Christian freshman Greg Williams echoed Ledoux, saying the biggest lessons he has learned from Starks have helped him become a role model to his peers.
“He knows people look up to us,” Williams said. “We have to make good decisions, so that maybe people will follow.”
Lafayette Christian will begin its road back to the Top 28 at home Friday against No. 30 St. Frederick.
Starks said he hopes the culmination of everything he has tried to instill in his young team will lead to success following his squad in the Class 1A playoffs.
Whether or not the Knights can survive the 32-team gauntlet and win the state title isn’t as important as the total picture, Starks said. What Starks said he does expect is them to finish their season and careers as champions.
“If you want to be a champion on the court, you have to be a champion in life,” Starks said. “Those things go hand-in-hand. At the end of the day, there are a lot of champions out there that never got a ring on their finger. When kids graduate, when they’re successful in the classroom, with their families and in their communities, to me, that’s the championship.”