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Bernard Wilkes

Inducted 2007

Bernard Wilkes’s legacy at Jacksonville’s Ribault High School is one of inspiration and achievement. Although he is gone, the example he set for his student-athletes will live with them forever.

Wilkes played high school basketball at Eugene J. Butler High School, starting every game on the varsity level and earning an athletic scholarship to Shaw University. He graduated from Shaw in 1971 with a degree in physical education.

Wilkes became the head boys basketball coach at Ribault High School in 1976 and made his first FHSAA Finals appearance in 1981. In his 30-year career, he won 12 Gateway Conference championships, 21 district titles, 16 FHSAA Finals state tournament appearances, and was a state champion and state runner-up four times each. His final record was 758-158 – two wins shy of the record for the most wins in Florida high school boys basketball, set by fellow Hall of Fame member Don Wallen. Wilkes guided more than 100 student-athletes to play basketball at the college level.

He was an educator at heart and cared deeply about his students and players. Wilkes was known to visit his players’ homes, escort them to church, urge them to attend college, and encourage them in being successful in life. Most Sundays, the entire team accompanied him to Abyssinia Missionary Baptist Church, and they often prayed together as a group.

Wilkes received numerous honors throughout his career, including Most Outstanding Coach of the Year by the Florida Times-Union, Most Outstanding Coach of the Year by WTLV-12 in Jacksonville, and state Coach of the Year. He was Ribault’s 1997 nominee for The Boselli Foundation’s Most Valuable Teacher/Coach, and was a 2006 Works & Deeds Honoree from Living Through Giving.