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Teacher roots for Florida A&M
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When the Florida A&M University men's basketball team won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament championship on March 13 and advanced to the NCAA tournament for just the second time in school history, Blaker-Kinser Jr. High teacher/coach Derrick Magee celebrated.

Magee, 27, played for Florida A&M for four years (1995-1999). The Rattlers advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time ever during his senior year.

"That's my alma mater," said Magee, a Division I athletic scholarship recipient. "That's where my heart lies. That's where I got my undergraduate degree from. That's where I was an assistant coach.

"I still have ties to the school. I know a lot of people in the athletic department and on campus. My younger brother might go there."

Magee has held a number of coaching positions since earning his undergraduate degree in physical education and sports management at Florida A&M.

Magee currently works full-time as a physical education teacher in Ceres. He was also head coach of the eighth-grade boys (14-1 record) and seventh-grade girls (13-2 record) basketball teams this past season.

"They had a position and it was a good fit for me," Magee said.

Magee was hired by the Ceres Unified School District after teaching and coaching at West High School in Tracy for a year. He was an assistant coach for the varsity boys basketball team.

Prior to moving to California in July 2002, Magee worked for the NBA's Orlando Magic franchise and Florida A&M.

Magee helped create grants for colleges while working for the Magic's Business Development and Basketball Operations for a year.

"I wrote a $2.8 million grant for Florida A&M," he said.

Magee was an assistant coach for two years at Florida A&M.

"I worked with big guys and specialized in defense," he said.

Magee also helped schedule games.

"I set up contracts between Florida A&M and bigger schools like Georgia Tech," he said.

Magee faced some of the top teams in the country when he was a player, including Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils.

"That was our first time ever being in the NCAA tournament," Magee said. "It's an overwhelming experience."

Florida A&M lost 99-58 to No. 1 seeded Duke in the first round of the 1999 NCAA tournament.

"They were loaded that year," Magee said.

The Blue Devils were led by Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, Shane Battier and William Avery. All four players were drafted into the NBA.

"They were 35-1 before they lost to Connecticut in the championship game," Magee said.

Magee likened this year's Florida A&M team to the university's 1999 team.

Both teams compiled losing records but won the MEAC tournament, which guaranteed them a berth in the NCAA tournament.

"It's a mere image of our team when we went in 1999," Magee said. "We lost our first 10 games. They were 1-10 before they started to get it in gear."

Magee watched Florida A&M win the MEAC Championship game on ESPN 2 on March 13 and play-in-game of the NCAA tournament on ESPN on March 16.

"Hopefully, that will help the recruiting class for next year," Magee said.

Kentucky, the No. 1 seed, ended Florida A&M's season on Friday. The Wildcats posted a 96-76 victory over the 16th-seeded Rattlers.

"They have the most wins in NCAA college basketball history," Magee said. "They're second on the list for most national titles behind UCLA. They have a rich, rich history."

Magee is currently working on his master's degree in Business Administration at Stanislaus State.

"I'm almost done with the program," Magee said. "I have to take three classes this spring and three classes during the summer."

Magee is contemplating getting a Ph.D in Sports Administration.

"There's a lack of minorities holding administration positions in athletics at NCAA Division I colleges," Magee said.

Magee wants to become an athletic director.

"When I'm done with my education and have more experience, I'd love to get the opportunity to run an athletic program at a big Division I college like UCLA."

Added Magee: "I can see myself at Blaker-Kinser next year."

Magee lives in Modesto. He's married and has one daughter. His wife is expecting. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier