First-year Lady Coyotes head basketball coach Albert Cager has named Alann Polk as his new assistant coach. Polk comes to Anna by way of Barbara Bush Middle School in Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District. He played four years at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and also played professionally for a time in China and in the United States Basketball League.

“He will be a tremendous hire for our program,” Cager said. “He brings a wealth of basketball knowledge and experience. He is first a great husband and father, which brings a great level of accountability to the program. He's someone who I can learn from as well. I know with his experience and his energy we are going to be a great tandem, and I look forward to growing the program along with him. This is truly a great time to be a Coyote.”

Polk, 38, says he is already familiar with the Anna-Melissa area, having lived and owned a business in McKinney for about eight years. That endeavor was a college-bound sports training organization called Kingdom Building Basketball.

“I took area athletes from sixth grade all the way up to high school, and trained them in the dynamics of skill development,” he said. “Once they got their skill level up to a certain level, I took them out across the country and put them in front of what they call — now you know it as AAU — but it used to be Showcase Tournaments. … We probably turned out over 25 athletes with higher-level educational scholarships through athletics.”

Polk says he knows that the kids in this area are eager to learn.

“They want to get better, with the right teaching. That's kind of what drew me there. … Coach Cager reached out to me on Memorial Day. We spoke and it seemed like there was good comradery between the two of us. He brought me up, showed me the school and the facilities. I hadn't seen the great facilities they'd built up there until last week. And being able to meet all the staff around the school, it seemed like a good place to kind of land for a good high school experience.”

After Polk's playing days at Northwestern State, he traveled to China with Houston's Quest basketball club and played there for half a season.

“China was an experience, I should say,” he said, adding that it made him miss home a lot. “I think I went over weighing about 220 pounds and I came back weighing about 210 pounds. Just the southern cuisine (here) that we get so used to, we take for granted — I was definitely shown a new way over there. … Taking that experience from China and coming back to the United States Basketball League really went hand-in-hand because it was a grind system. You had to really make your way in that system.”

Polk's team in China was based in Shanghai and traveled by bus to outlying cities for games.

“We took a translator with us everywhere we went,” he said, “so that we'd be able to communicate properly.”

“Player development is where my biggest strength is,” Polk said. “Developing a player from, say, ground zero and putting them at a whole higher level. I've got a great feel for players and understanding the relationships that come along with building that dynamic. … We're looking to do something different with the team. (Coach Cager's) mentality and my mentality both align and I think it's going to be something positive.”