New Samford basketball coach strives to lead by example

New Samford basketball coach strives to lead by example

Samford University named Bucky McMillan as its 29th head men’s basketball coach April 6.

In a wide-ranging interview with TAB Talks co-hosts Jennifer Davis Rash and Debbie Campbell, McMillan said he will be a “players’ coach, who can inspire people to reach their God-given talent. … Coach McMillan is a guy who loves relationships.”

McMillan, who has been head boys’ basketball coach at Birmingham’s Mountain Brook High School since 2008, comes to Samford University with a winning record, having led the Mountain Brook Spartans to five state championships — the first five in school history — with a 333–74 record in 12 seasons. In 2018 McMillan was named national Coach of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association.

His secret to such success? McMillan said he tells his players, “We’re going to give 100%, 100% of the time. Not many people can do that in everything that they do.”

Great Motivation

Growing up in Birmingham, McMillan “loved all sports.” However, a few people told him, “I don’t think basketball is the sport for you.” That was the only motivation the young man needed. “I like great challenges. I’m really glad I chose basketball,” he said.

McMillan went on to excel in basketball in high school, at Mountain Brook, and then in college, at Birmingham-Southern College. While in college, McMillan coached youth basketball teams, and discovered his life’s calling.

“I knew at that point that this is something special, this is something God is calling me to do,” McMillan recalled.

Many individuals instilled positive values in McMillan’s life when he was younger, he said. “I try to instill those (values) in others, and … what I wake up for every day are those interactions. … That makes life worth living.”

Among those positive values are trust, hard work, confidence and unselfishness. “If you can take those same values with you in your life (beyond athletics), what kind of person would you be?” he asks his players.

“We all trust each other, and we all end up loving each other because of that.”

Still, McMillan doesn’t expect perfection, and he admits his imperfection.

“You’re never going to be perfect. I do know that I do strive to be better than I was the day before,” he said. “When you’re a coach, you’re a role model. You have to lead by example.”

Samford’s new basketball coach is a self-described “deep thinker” who likes to “dive into matters of faith.”

After logically examining Jesus Christ’s claims, McMillan determined, “Jesus is exactly who He says He is. Because of that, He is worth changing your life for. Through my spiritual journey, I’ve grown a lot these past 15 years, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to grow at Samford and to be around that wholesome environment and the great impact it will have on me.

“When you put great people in the same room together all with the same mission, all on the same journey, great things happen. Magical things happen, and I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

In introducing McMillan in the TAB Talks interview, Kevin Blackwell, assistant to the president for church relations at Samford University, said, “We are thrilled to bring him on and really looking forward to what he’s going to bring to our basketball program.”

To listen to this TAB Talks episode in its entirety, go to