High School Hoops – “The Move”

17 Apr

High School Hoops – “The Move”

Written by: Sean Russell Publisher FAAZ Magazine

Typically, the buzz in high school basketball is about player rankings and recruiting. The internet is abundantly filled with player highlights, tweets, status updates, posts, and articles. What players are doing and where are they going are the common topics.

A few weeks ago that all changed for a brief period in time. In a rare instance, the buzz went from player to coach.

A modest coach with a resume that includes an overall head coaching record of 226-61, 186-33 at his most recent program, one national title, 5 games broadcasted on ESPN, 15 years with Nike Basketball, 2 years as Assistant Coach on 2 Gold Medal USA Teams, Head Coach of victorious US Team at Hoop Summit, and over 50 former players moving on to the collegiate level and even a few pros.

So it’s clear why word spread so quickly through the high school basketball community about the departure of nationally respected Coach Kevin Sutton from Montverde Academy. After all, he helped build a program from infancy to national prominence at a blazing rate. They finished the 2010-11 season ranked 13th nationally. Everything seemed to be ideal, so why the break? As rumors flew, the question still remained.

After all, nobody had really heard of Montverde Academy before Coach Sutton stepped onto the campus. So it seemed absurd, even arrogant, to think that an administration would dismiss a coach that helped bring a program from irrelevance to prominence. At the same time it did not make sense that a coach at his caliber did not already have something lined up.

People said there must be some LeBronesque type maneuver lurking somewhere. We had “The Decision” last year, so would this be high school’s version? It could be referred to as “The Move.”

“The Move” could potentially end up reshaping the look of the national power basketball hierarchy, launching the rise of another power, and possibly the beginning of the end of another.

I recently spoke with Coach Sutton regarding “The Move.”

First of all, the pink elephant is in the room so we may as well get it out of the way. What happened?

“Change is inevitable and sometimes when there is a change in direction, there is a change in leadership. It was an amicable decision. A tough decision, but amicable.

Anytime you spend 8 years with someone or an organization, it’s tough when it’s time to move on. I am truly blessed and honored at the opportunity to have helped develop the program there. It is always an honor to be putinto a leadership type position to help impact and shape the lives of individuals, especially youth. It is even more of a blessing when you get to do that in a platform that you love, and for me that’s basketball.”

What was delay in talking to media?

Timing is always the key and the timing to discuss it was not right. It took place at a time leading into the Nike Hoop Summit, and I felt it would have been would have been distracting to the players experience and their preparation to discuss it openly.

Based on the team’s accomplishment and performance, combined with seeing the player’s interaction together at the Hoop Summit, I believe it was the right decision to make.

Do you have something already in place? If not, what are your options, offers, and/or pursuits?

No, I do not have something “lined up”.

Change has a way of showing the blessings and opportunities of a committed belief system and work ethic. It also has a way of quickly summarizing your past body of work and the relationships cultivated within that time.

I really could not be more blessed! I am truly humbled and appreciative by the outpouring of opportunities, including college assistant positions, high school head coaching positions here in the US & Canada, as well as positions coaching abroad in Germany or China.

The options are wide open right now and ultimately it will become a decision that is the best scenario for my family.

If you do stay in the high school coaching circuit, can you see the spawning of a new rivalry between your new program and with Montverde?

Rivalry, no. I work and coach my teams to have them prepared to perform their best and give them the best opportunity to be successful – on and off the court.

As that relates to basketball and wins, we prepare and work hard to win. Each game is as important as the next, and the one before.

What will you miss most from your time at Montverde, and what will you take away from the experience?

What I will miss most will be all the kids in the entire school – lower, middle, and upper school level. Definitely the kids! The diversity of the cultures there is incredible and offers the opportunity to make a global impact.

There is a great deal to take away from the experience there. The accomplishments all came as a byproduct of opportunity, preparation, and the consistency of doing the right thing over time. I am proud that my words and my actions were in line, stemming for my cornerstone pillars of character and integrity.

My biggest accomplishments are my “living trophies”, which are the lives impacted.

Many know Kevin Sutton as the coach, while others as the person. Regardless he is widely respected on and off the court for his knowledge of the game, compassion for his players, and his determination to prepare them to succeed.

I am fortunate to know Kevin Sutton, not only as the coach and the person, but also to be able to consider him a close friend.

And for that, I am blessed.


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