Hebron Christian hired Jan Azar, who led Wesleyan to 13 state titles and 571 wins, to take over its girls basketball program Friday.
Azar stepped down March 15 after 22 years at Wesleyan. She started the Wolves’ program from scratch and built it into the most successful in the state, winning more championships than any basketball coach in Georgia history. Azar’s teams played in the state final 18 of the last 19 years.
“You begin to go down the resume and it speaks for itself,” Hebron athletic director Taylor Davis said. “It’s staggering to see the career she’s had at Wesleyan. She is the most successful coach in boys or girls basketball in Georgia.”
Azar’s longtime basketball assistant, Demetrius Frazier, also is joining the coaching staff at Hebron. Frazier was hired as the head softball coach. Azar and Frazier will be each other’s assistants in their respective sports.
It was a conversation Frazier had with Davis that led to Azar’s hiring.
“We had an open-ended discussion and he mentioned Jan’s interest in the position,” Davis said.
The news coincided with talks Davis and girls basketball head coach Lori Fisher had been having about a change. Fisher resuscitated the Lions’ program, which had been a perennial state tournament contender in the mid-2000s, over the last three years. She inherited a one-win team and guided a youthful Hebron team to a 14-13 mark in 2018-19.
“She’s done a really good job of getting the foundation going,” Azar said. “What I was really looking for, for me, was a place I could grow a program again. Hebron has the foundation for it already. It won’t be anything like when I began at Wesleyan, but it does give me the opportunity to make something my own and grow what has already been established. That was important to me.”
Azar entertained moving to the college level, but ultimately, the K-12 Christian-school model is what appeals most to her.
“I’m excited about that,” Azar said. “I like the vision of the school and the athletic program.”
Azar and Davis had a 90-minute face-to-face conversation at the end of March. Davis has been at Hebron for eight years and is a Greater Atlanta Christian grad, so they knew a lot of the same people.
“We were clicking with the same heartbeat when it came to athletics,” Davis said.
The biggest factor for Azar was making sure her whole family was happy. Her daughter, Nicole, is a sharp-shooting sophomore and her son, Andrew, is in middle school.
“(The thought process) was the same all along — to find the right fit for my family,” Azar said. “Hebron hit every piece of that. And I’m really excited to be able to coach (Nicole) for the next two years. For us to be together to finish out her high school career is important to me.
“The decision, career-wise, is really good for me, but also for my family.”
That family includes Frazier. He was at Wesleyan for the last 11 years and the two complement each other in many ways.
“It’s hard to find that person you can work side by side with,” Azar said. “We both do different things well. That we can do that in two sports definitely impacted my decision.”
Azar and Frazier will be formally introduced to the Hebron community at a meet-and-greet Monday evening.
“It’s pretty special,” Davis said. “They’re going to tag-team this and we have a lot of dual-sport athletes, so it’s exciting.”
Azar was inducted into the Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. She has coached more than 35 players who went on to college careers and eight McDonald’s All-American nominees, including Gatorade Player of the Year Mikayla Coombs.
Her overall record of 571-113 equals a winning percentage of .834 and three teams finished in the Top 30 in ESPN’s season-ending national rankings.
The only losing varsity season Wesleyan ever had was the first one. The Wolves won four games and Azar has said the goal was just to win more than they lost the next season. They did. Two years later, Wesleyan made its first appearance in the state final. The Wolves won their first title a year after that in 2002.
Part of what made Wesleyan so sustainably successful was its lower-school programs, which Azar oversaw, feeding a steady stream of talent to the varsity level.
“It’s important to me to know the kids as long as possible,” Azar said. “I looked at some college opportunities, but at the end of the day, my heart is at the high-school level, and really at a K-12 school. I like having a longer impact.”
Azar and Frazier will start at the school in July.
“I’m excited to get going,” Azar said. “It was really cool throughout the process that I got to talk to a lot of people and figure out what was the best fit was. I’ve been at Wesleyan for so long, I’m excited for something new. Hebron is a great place.”