MARTIN, Tenn. – Dion Real has joined The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball program as an assistant coach, Skyhawk head coach Jason James has announced.
Real brings nine years of high school head coaching experience to the Skyhawks, including the last five seasons as head coach of Covington High School in northwest Tennessee. In those nine seasons, he has guided his team to four district championships and four runner-up finishes. Overall, Real compiled a 184-109 record at four different high schools, with a 92-34 mark (.730 winning percentage) against district rivals.
“I am very excited to be here at UT Martin,” Real said. “I am thankful for this opportunity given by Coach James and the UT Martin staff.”
Real replaces Cornelius Jackson on the Skyhawk bench, as Jackson accepted an assistant coaching job at Cleveland State University.
“When we lost Coach Jackson I wanted to replace him with a guy who is equally as smart and articulate as well as someone who has the same loyalty that Cornelius has,” James said. “I have definitely found that in Dion. I look forward to working with him this season and into the future. We are very fortunate to have him as a member of our Skyhawk family.”
James was familiar with Real’s impressive body of work from his past five seasons at Covington, where he chalked up a 103-60 record while capturing two consecutive district titles thanks to a 32-2 district record from 2010-12.
“Dion is a tireless worker and a very good basketball coach,” James said. “His teams have always played with a sense of urgency and discipline that I am very impressed with. He is well-connected in this area which will help him a lot on the recruiting trail. The things that stick out the most with Dion are his passion for the game and his care for the student-athletes that have played for him. These are two qualities which I find very important in being a successful coach.”
Real began as a head coach at Earle High School in Earle, Ark. in 2004. He led the Bulldogs to a pair of 20-win seasons and district championships, including 27 victories in the 2005-06 season alone.
Real then made stops at Cairo (Ill.) High School in 2006-07 and Dyersburg (Tenn.) High School in 2007-08 before settling in at Covington.
At Covington, Real registered at least 23 victories in four of his seasons at the helm. Under Real, the Chargers went undefeated in district play (16-0) in 2010-11. He was named the District 13-AA Coach of the Year in both 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Real has been selected as the head coach for the West Tennessee All-Star Game on three different occasions (2008, 2009, 2013). He also served as a head coach on the AAU circuit in Batesville, Ark. and Memphis, Tenn. before founding and directing the AAU team located in Covington in the spring of 2009.
A native of Poinsett County, Ark., Real played collegiately for four years at Lyon College under head coach Kevin Jenkins. He graduated in 2003 with a bachelor of arts degree in history while earning his Masters degree in educational leadership from Arkansas State University in 2012.