Most would know Highline High School’s head coach as a former Metro League stand-out who won multiple state championships at basketball powerhouse Rainier Beach. From playing every Tuesday and Friday throughout Washington’s inner city to playing an AAU national schedule to now coaching on the sidelines, Djuan Piper is shifting the culture by not only helping his kids be great basketball players but even better young men.
“The opportunity to be able to build something, along with the core values we believe as a coaching staff, school, and community,” said Piper. “There’s so much potential at Highline High School in athletics that most people on the outside looking in can’t see, but our time is now.”
Covid-19 athletics in Washington have been all over the place, so this basketball season was very much limited, but the Pirates took full advantage of the opportunity provided and stand-out sophomore Amare Jackson didn’t disappoint. The starting guard leads the team in scoring with 27.8 points per game and 11 rebounds with a 4-3 overall record in the seven games WIAA allowed them to play.
Most coaches are much older than the kids they’re coaching, especially when it comes to high school sports but not Piper. At 27 years old, his knowledge is top tier and he connects with the youth’s language as far as basketball, as well as life outside of it.
“Coaching a group that I am not too much older than I think has worked out great because I’m able to give them life skills and lessons off the court that translates to real life,” said Piper “my experience takes care of the basketball side of things, but if a kid doesn’t trust you or feel like you have their best interest they won’t play for you, so those are things I try to execute on.”
Despite age turning a program around on any level whether it’s high school, college, or professional isn’t as easy as it seems or looks but you have to be willing to fall in love with doing things others wouldn’t dare to succeed. Piper could have joined the staff of a powerhouse that has numerous accolades within their athletic program, instead, he chose the route less traveled.
“The process of turning this program around has been great, we use a phrase ‘Build the Ship’ and ‘Come Back to HHS’ and those are important to me because the talent is here in the community,” said Piper “top athletes both boys and girls in their respective sports would end up elsewhere so it’s important to close off this area.”
Coaching 27 games in two years as the Pirates’ head coach, Djuan Piper has an overall record of 11-16. He looks forward to taking his team to new heights in the upcoming 2021-22 season.
“People will get to see what Highline is really about and what has been brewing for the past couple of years,” said Piper “I get my full roster back and had a couple of players who opted out this season so we will be back to full strength in 2021-22 and hopefully we will be checking off a couple of goals we have this year.”