As a high school student, Milledgeville native Bo Kilby transferred from GMC Prep to John Milledge Academy.
Now the 38-year-old Kilby is making a move in the opposite direction.
After nine years spent as the JMA boys basketball assistant coach, Kilby has accepted the job as GMC Prep boys basketball head coach. He’s taking over the role previously held by James Lunsford who retired before the 2020-21 school year. GMC Prep football head coach Lee Coleman, who isn’t going anywhere, served as a one-season bridge to get from the retired Lunsford to the newly-hired Kilby.
“Bo is well-known in the community and I've known him a long time dating back to before I even came to GMC,” said GMC Prep Athletic Director Allen Simmons. “Just seeing the work he was associated with at John Milledge, the success they’ve had, and knowing him as the person and family man he is — we wanted that type of character here at GMC.”
This will be Kilby’s first varsity head coaching job, and it comes at the school where he attended sixth through ninth grade before making the switch to JMA. Upon graduating from high school he played basketball at Columbus State University and later transferred to Georgia Southwestern, which is ironically where the Trojan boys basketball team won its first state championship in program history back in March. Kilby will look to bring his experience as a player and assistant coach, as well as a few other things, with him across town to his new position at GMC.
“I definitely want to create a really good team culture,” Kilby said. “At John Milledge, we call it ‘the circle’ where there is no beginning and there is no end. We’re all in it together. I want to instill that team culture where we play as one team. We’ve been building that over the years at John Milledge and finally, we got to see the benefit of that this year when we had a legit team. Everybody loved each other. Everybody enjoyed playing with each other. In the end, that made the difference in us winning the state championship.”
Kilby takes over a program that’s at a critical point. The Bulldogs were just 3-11 last season and missed out on the state playoffs. The roster had been decimated by players transferring out to other schools. It wasn’t so long ago, though, that GMC boys basketball was having some of its best seasons in team history. Under Lunsford, the ‘Dogs were region runners-up behind Wilkinson County in 2018 and 2019. They earned postseason berths in both those years and in 2020 as well. After last season’s low win output, the program could be viewed as being at a kind of crossroads. Will the GMC boys slide back into obscurity? Or can Kilby lead a return to winning records and playoff appearances? The new head coach is hoping for the latter result after having spent the last eight years winning a ton of basketball games working alongside JMA boys basketball head coach David Gallagher.
“I couldn’t be more excited to come in and bring my experiences of what I've learned from Coach Gallagher,” Kilby said. “I look forward to putting it all to great use with my new players at GMC. Anybody who wants to play, I’m ready to go to work with them. We’ll build with what we have and lay a new foundation. I want these guys to enjoy playing basketball and being part of the team … I’ve got to give big props to Coach Gallagher for his friendship and teamwork we’ve had over these last seven or eight years together. It really means a lot.”
Despite Gallagher now being out his longtime assistant coach, those positive feelings between the two go both ways.
“Coach Kilby has been a vital part of the culture, growth, and development of the John Milledge boys basketball program over the past eight years,” Gallagher said. “I’m forever grateful for his contribution to our successes on the court and even more grateful for the personal friendships established between his family and mine. I’m excited for Coach Kilby and the opportunity for him to be the varsity head coach at GMC. I feel confident he is more than ready for this step in his coaching career and that he will build a program with high expectations both on and off the court.”
The two former colleagues will pit their teams against each other this season in what will likely be a very well-attended home-and-home series between the GMC and John Milledge boys and girls basketball teams.
“That should be fun,” said Kilby. “Me and David have talked about that a long time, bringing the community together to see the great basketball we have in Milledgeville.”
Before that though, Kilby has a lot of work to put in with his new squad. The GMC Prep boys have workouts and practices scheduled to begin June 7 along with some scrimmages later on this summer. GHSA programs like GMC may begin preseason basketball practice starting Oct. 25.