Category Archives: Coaches’ Corner

Coaching Carousel

Majority of information courtesy of Kdubble on The Vent

*Updated 10/10*

Girls

Walnut GroveChris Ward
Sandy CreekJanie Hodges—Scotland, NC
Rockdale County
Holy InnocentsNichole Dixon—Wesleyan Asst.
Woodland-StockbridgeMike Johnson—Former Redan Asst.
Franklin CountyTony Watkins Sr.—Grayson
Oglethorpe County
Mountain ViewBrad Blackmon—Asst. on staff
Elbert CountyWes Greer—Dawson County boys Asst.
White CountyJarvis Davenport—East Hall Asst.
BerkmarAnthandus Beauford—Asst. on staff
Thomson
Central GwinnettShaLisha Davis-–Tri-Cities Asst.
Savannah ChristianJoshua KerkauOak Hall, FL
John’s CreekKirk Call—Parkview
Peach CountyTamica Andrews—Lamar County
NorthsideAshleigh Fox-–Jones County Asst.
ArcherBob Westbrook—Etowah
DaltonJim Case-–Asst. on staff
Blessed Trinity
Tim Rountree—Asst. on boys staff
Arabia MountainFrank Henderson
Miller GroveYolanda Redmond—Miller Grove HC
Schley County
Cliff Royal
Prince Avenue
Richard Ricketts—AD
Shiloh
Nigel Carter—Asst. on staff
Riverdale
Alissa Wilson
Liberty CountyNichole Tazewell—Lewis Frasier Middle School
East Coweta
Cedar Shoals
Takesha Wall—Asst. on staff
GraysonRobin Potter—Tucker
Montgomery CountyDr. Thomas Stockdale
Mt. Pisgah
Regina Tate-Leslie—Former Pace HC
DarlingtonTommy Atha—Asst. on staff
Etowah
Trip Holton—Asst. on staff
Central-Carrollton
Josh Smith—Asst. on staff
Banks County
Steve Shedd—Banks Middle School Coach
TuckerJJ Oliver Jr.—Bluefield State 
Peachtree Ridge
Vanessa White—Dade County Asst.
ParkviewCynthia Cooper—Asst. on staff
Windsor ForestSamantha Tracy
Sprayberry
Melissa Little—Hiram Asst.
Murray County
Hannah Mayo—Asst. on staff
East CowetaLee Heaberlin—Sandy Creek baseball
DuluthApril Tate—Former Dutchdown HC
Seminole County
Carrie Stephens
Columbia
Therrell
Carla Holloway—Woodland-Stockbridge
StockbridgeJamilia Green—P.E. Teacher
Stephens CountyScott Strickland—Banks County boys Asst.

Boys

GriffinWillie Reese—Meadowcreek
Lanier CountyTy Randolph—Dougherty
JacksonAl Williams—Rockdale AD/Former Rockdale HC
Fellowship ChristianRoshown McLeod—Johnson Ferry Christian
Glascock County
DoughertyRufus McDuffie—5 state titles @ Mitchell-Baker
West ForsythFredrick Hurt—Alpharetta
West  LaurensEd Ford—Montgomery County Co-HC
Chapel HillKen Austin—Former Langston Hughes girls Asst.
Glynn AcademyTerrance Haywood—last at McIntosh Academy
Oconee CountyThad Burgess—Dawson County
East JacksonDavid Akin—Former Parkview Asst.
Athens AcademyEd Wilson—Frederica Academy
EtowahAllen Whitehart—last at Buford
South GwinnettTy Anderson—North Georgia Asst.
VeteransNick Brooks—Warner Robins Asst.
LakesideJeff Williams—Greenbrier Asst.
GrovetownRaymond Epps—Asst. of Staff
DutchtownJamal Basit—South Gwinnett
Warren County
DuluthCabral Huff—Alcorn State Asst.
BainbridgeTerry Smith—Peach County
Greene CountySteve McNease—Asst. on staff
CreeksideGregory Freeman—Lovejoy
Johns CreekKeenan Temple—Lambert Asst.
AlpharettaJason Dasigner—Pope Asst.
Dawson CountyChad Pittman—Chestatee
Bradwell Institute-Will Douberly
Coahulla Creek
Matthew Legg—Murray County Asst.
Macon County
Prince Avenue
Will Cantrell—Hebron Christian 
Seminole County
Elbert County
Don Hurlburt—Etowah
Dodge CountyRobert Cotton—Wayne County
Chestatee
Kevin Strickland-–Brookwood Asst.
SequoyahAllen Carden—Sprayberry girls HC
Mt. Pisgah
Doug Able-–Notre Dame, MD
WesleyanAdam Griffin—Asst. on staff
Peach CountyPrelvis Paster—Lamar County
Meadowcreek
Curtis Gilleylen—Columbia girls HC
St. Anne-PacelliCorry Black—Former Chattahoochee Valley C.C. Asst.
Taylor CountyGerald Tranquille—Blountstown, FL
Groves
Xavier Woods—Twiggs County HC
Jenkins CountyQuinton Sweet—Asst. on staff
Swainsboro
Brice Hobbs—Asst. on staff
Lovejoy
John Holladay—Volleyball HC
Pierce County
Joseph Garner—Tift County girls Asst.
Washington-Wilkes
Terrence Pendleton—Jacksonville State G.A.
Miller Grove
Rasul Chester—Stephenson
Hebron Christian
Derrick Heberling—Central Gwinnett Asst.
Lamar County
Warren Sellers—Former West Hall HC
West
HallBobby Pless—Girls Asst.
ELCADerrick Mason—Emmanuel College Assoc. HC
Central-CarrolltonDeion Sims—Asst. on staff
Mundy’s MillDwight Callaway—Former Riverdale Asst.
Excel Christian
Stratford Academy
Sean Sweeney—Georgia Southwestern Asst.
Wayne CountyLemetrice Ray
ManchesterDr. George McElroy—Shaw Asst.
Columbia
Dr. Phil McCrary—Former Columbia HC
Banneker
Carlos Cliett—Former North Springs HC
Heard CountyKeith Simmons—Carrollton Asst.
StephensonDwayne McKinney—Former Southwest DeKalb HC
Savannah Country DayHughes Barber—Asst. on staff
PepperellZach Mendence—Asst. on staff
HardawayKendall Mills-–Current Girls HC
Jackson-Atlanta
Travis Williams—Former Tennessee State HC
Toombs CountyLaberton Sims—Tift County Asst.
Cross KeysDuane Kelley—Former Alcovy HC
Woodland-CartersvilleColman Roberts—Former girls HC
Pinecrest AcademyTerrance Vinson—Asst. on staff
Mount de SalesDuane Hunter—Asst. on staff
Twiggs CountyAndrew Johnson

Lincoln County Quickly Becoming More Than Just A Football School

500 Wins. An .830 winning percentage. 33 Region titles. 11 State Championships. That is Lincoln County’s resume for football. Lincolnton, one of the best pigskin towns in the state. For basketball? Try 1998 as the Red Devils’ last notable winning season. Lincoln County has long been known as a football county but with Wesley Wuchte at the helm and Ahmad Rand inside, the two are steering the Red Devils to one of the program’s best seasons in school history.

Currently Lincoln County is 7-3 overall and ranked No. 7 in Class A-Public. It has been a vast turnaround from last year’s 10-11 campaign. Coach Wuchte, a former Evans High School standout under Coach Kevin Kenny and Aiken Tech forward for Coach Bruce Capers, is in his second year as varsity head coach after leading the junior varsity. The 26-year-old coach has overseen the slow development of the program, coaching all the juniors and sophomores on the roster since they were in eighth and ninth grade. Wuchte also serves as the Lincoln County Middle School head coach.

At 26, Coach Wuchte has led the Red Devils to their best start in years
At 26, Coach Wuchte has led the Red Devils to their best start in years

So how has Lincoln County gotten off to a fast start? It has to do with taking the seriousness on the gridiron and transferring over that same winning attitude onto the hardwood.

“I think it’s just buying into the culture,” explained Wuchte. “It’s a big football school out here. I only have three of my kids that don’t play football and only play basketball and that’s Zach [Crite], Ahmad [Rand] and Maciah [Gunby], which are my three leading scorers.

“Overall they are just buying into the culture. …They are playing defense hard, they play together and they are playing for one another.”

Introducing Ahmad Rand

For a program that hasn’t seen a winning season in nearly two decades, Wuchte was brought in with a young energy and a passion to turn things around. Players have been held accountable, film has been dissected with the team and each player has bought into doing the little things in order to be successful.

As the team has grown and realized something special could be on the horizon, one star has shined bright. 6-foot-7 junior forward Ahmad Rand has blossomed into the centerpiece for a now balanced attack with Crite (16.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.8 spg), Gunby (9.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and Devon Holloway (11.3 ppg, 10.2 rpg) all making key contributions. The interest in Rand has started to grow and for good reason as he has shattered the school record for triple-doubles and is averaging an eye-popping 16.7 points, 16.4 rebounds and 9.6 blocks per game this year. He has heard from a handful of Division II schools and one D-I program, Kennesaw State University.

(L-R) Ahmad Rand, Zach Crite & Devon Holloway
(L-R) Ahmad Rand, Zach Crite & Devon Holloway

Rand has helped turn Lincoln County into a highlight factory with his dunks and ability to swat any shot thrown his way. The Red Devils welcomed rival Washington-Wilkes to Lincoln County last Tuesday and won 74-64 in front of a sell-out crowd that hasn’t been seen in years thanks to the hype that Rand and the rest of the Red Devils have built.

“It was so packed. It was so unreal. Kids were like ‘man I’ve never seen the gym this packed’ and I said yeah, you guys are turning it around, continue to grind. We are in the right direction, I’ll tell you that,” said Wuchte.

Finding Focus

Rand initially played football his freshman year but decided basketball was his calling after Wuchte encouraged him to focus on hoops. So how has Rand turned himself into a household name? It didn’t happen overnight or by luck.

“He just dedicated his whole entire offseason. So every day, I’m talking about four or five days a week him, Maciah and Zach, those three would be in there every day and Ahmad and Maciah especially, religiously they came every day,” said Wuchte.

Ahmad agreed that it has been a lot of hard work that has gotten him to the level of play he’s reached this season.

“I’ve been doing a lot of individual workouts with my coach in the offseason. Plus I’ve been into AAU which has definitely helped me out a little bit,” said Rand.

Ahmad Rand has overcome obstacles to become a premier '17 player
Ahmad Rand has overcome obstacles to become a premier ’17 player

Rand played over the summer with Team Power in Augusta but may be branching out to play with the Atlanta Xpress, one of the best Under Armour sponsored teams in the entire nation which features the likes of MJ Walker (Jonesboro), Elias Harden (Sandy Creek), Rayshaun Hammonds (Norcross) and Michael Durr (Westlake) as some headlining juniors.

Rand says he is used to playing power forward or center, but understands that if he joins a larger team or plays at the next level he may see a lot of time at the small forward position as well.

When asked why he decided to dedicate his life to improving on the court and in the classroom, one name came up as a motivating force.

“To be honest, he’s [Coach Wuchte] is the main reason why I’ve made it this far,” said Rand. “I didn’t really start taking basketball serious until my freshman year and sophomore year. He’s been helping me a lot during the offseason and doing a lot of workouts. He’s been pushing me and motivating me. Every day in the car ride home he’s telling me what I need to improve on and what other stuff I need to do.”

On The Map

As Coach Wuchte continued to provide support and guidance for Rand, the light went on as Ahmad realized he could have a future in basketball.

“When I started seeing myself get better, I started going home and thinking real hard about it. This year I said I have to have a better season than last year and that’s what I’ve been doing. And every day I’ve been working harder and harder and my name started getting out there more.”

Along with seeing his own name popping up across the internet, the re-emergence of Lincoln County basketball has been something special to Ahmad and something he takes pride in being a part of.

“Knowing that Lincoln County is a football county, we have a lot of leaders. Me and our starting shooting guard were talking about it. We have to bring LC up. This week we’ve beaten teams from Augusta and everything so that has been helping us get our name out there a lot.”

It’s been a long time coming, but Lincoln County basketball is finally being put back on the map by Coach Wuchte, Rand and a strong junior and senior class. With only around 350 kids in the school, the Red Devils have learned to become a close knit team, not only by suiting up together but by blood as Rand is cousins with both junior Zae Gartell and sophomore Javon Reid, who also stars as the Red Devils’ quarterback in football, a team which finished 9-2 this year.

Don’t be surprised if Lincoln County with its new found focus and emphasis on basketball becomes a statewide player on both the football field and the basketball court.

Chad Cook of @AugBball breaks down Lincoln County’s win over Lakeside: http://www.augbball.com/2015/12/lincoln-county-improves-to-3-0-with-win.html

Faith & Excitement Surround McKissic & Sandy Creek

If you haven’t heard, there is a new sheriff in town leading the Sandy Creek boys program. A new head coach who is a self-proclaimed “Hype-man” for his team. Anthony McKissic has taken the reins of the Patriots after spending eight years at Morrow, coaching the boys for five years and most recently the girls team for three seasons. With his new gig, McKissic inherits a team that went 17-11 in 2014-15 and enters 2015-16 as Class AAAA’s No. 5 ranked team.

McKissic and his family have lived in Peachtree City for the last two years and with his wife already working at Sandy Creek, pouncing at the job opening after Coach Willie Reese left for Meadowcreek, was a no-brainer.

Bringing over a versatility of coaching both boys and girls in the past, there are different approaches that McKissic uses to get the most out of his players.

“There’s a big difference. There’s a different motivating tool when you’re coaching girls. Boys are usually a little bit tougher, getting them to understand using skill,” explained McKissic. “Girls are obviously more skilled than boys, because boys are more athletic and tend not to want to use skill. That’s how the better teams use a mix of athleticism and skill.”

Coach McKissic uses a variety of ways to make sure his players stay fundamentally sound and play the right way. More importantly, he wants to grow men and women as people off the court. He has held a multitude of positions over his coaching career, helping coach football, tennis, cross country and being the lead recruiting coordinator while at Morrow, but possibly his most gratifying job title has been Minister. McKissic is a man of God and leans heavily on his beliefs to not only guide himself, but help others along the way.

“I think that’s the basis of my whole philosophy. I’m just blessed to be at the position that I am and somebody helped me out at a young age and I just try my best to give back to the kids and be a good role model for them and be a leader in the community and in the school.”

His faith has allowed him to touch numerous people around him, players, parents and coaches alike. When it comes to how he leads on the court, McKissic believes he pulls from both ends of the spectrum.

“I would think I am a mix between a players’ coach and a hype-man,” he said. Some coaches play it close to the vest, but McKissic is a strong supporter of making sure the players have fun while striving for the goal of being the best they can.

“I just think that if they play excited and are happy about what they are doing they’ll do it with a lot more passion,” explained the energy filled coach. “The kids are kids. They want to have fun…I think they get a better experience out of it not making it necessarily a job for them. That’s how the kids get burnt out because coaches come in and they want it to be [like a job]. I believe you can work hard and have fun at the same time.”

Hype Machine

Coach McKissic is likely one of the funnest coaches to play for in the state. His advanced knowledge of cutting up videos, making highlight tapes and putting together pictures promoting the team have been littered all throughout social media, making fans at the Creek as excited as they have ever been for an upcoming basketball season, proud to stake claim to the fact that they are “Just a kid from Sandy Creek.”

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One of McKissic’s many graphics

“It’s something that I’ve done since the start of my career,” he said when speaking about his numerous ways of marketing and advertising his teams through social media.

“I use technology as a recruiting piece and a marketing piece to get the guys looked at. A lot of coaches don’t want players using it at all, but I tell them it’s okay to use it as long as you’re mature with it and are being responsible with your social media.

“It’s a tool; you can reach college coaches across the nation with the click of a finger instead of having to send out letters and DVDs. You can just shoot a link to it or shoot out a hype video to the fans and they can get excited about coming to see us play, whereas if we didn’t do that, they might not know what we have here at school.”

Patriot Pride

With hype videos being released to the public, there needs to be a good product on display. Sandy Creek shouldn’t worry about there being a letdown if everyone continues to buy into McKissic’s philosophies.

“They [fans] can expect an exciting and fast paced game. We want to give them something to come back to. We are going to work hard,” stated McKissic.

I may have put a target on the Patriots’ back this season, ranking them No. 5, but it is a challenge and responsibility that the team will embrace.

“The ranking means nothing to us, but, it does put a big target on your back so you have to make sure that you come in and every game play as if you’re respecting the person who gave you the ranking and not disrespecting them by coming out and playing lackadaisical and making it seem like the person didn’t know what they are talking about,” McKissic explained of the Patriots who were eliminated in the first round of the state playoffs last year, 63-46 by 2015-16 preseason No. 6 St. Pius.

“So if you’re going to be the No. 5 team in the state, you need to play like a No. 5 team in the state and not play down to the level of your opponent.”

Minutemen

The Patriots are ranked No. 5 in the state for a reason: good coaching and loads of talent. McKissic had great things to say about everyone on his roster but seven players stood out to me as being potential game-changers night in and night out.CS5eWkQVAAA3GcJ

Seniors Christian Turner, Keith Heard and AJ Freeman will be leaned on heavily to balance the offense.

Turner is a 5-foot-11 guard that is committed to Gardner-Webb.

“He’s a solid point guard. It all flows through him. He controls the ball, he’s not afraid to pass and give up shots to get his teammates involved.”

Heard, a 6-foot-8 power forward, brings length and a high-motor.

“He’s a hard-working kid. He can rebound, he’s big on put-back dunks and he’s a shot blocker.”

Freeman is a guard with good size that often gets overlooked playing alongside other great talent.

“A lot of people aren’t talking about him but he’s a great shooter.”

Juniors Elias Harden and Evan Jester both bring versatility and athleticism. Harden, a four-star wing prospect according to 247Sports, has a chance to be special.

“He’s got offers from about six or seven Division-I schools and he’s just a pure shooter. He’s an athletic kid. He’s gotten a lot better since we’ve been working on him this offseason.

“Jester is another one of those unknown kids,” McKissic told me. At 6-foot-6, his skillset projects well in Sandy Creek’s style of play. “I’m expecting big numbers from him this season on offense and on defense.”

Xavier Brewer will also see plenty of time as a sophomore and freshman guard TJ Bickerstaff has had an exceptional offseason and will fight to see the court.

“We are going to use him [Bickerstaff] kind of to just get his feet wet this year…If you don’t guard him he’ll put up a lot of numbers this season.”

Piecing It Together

With a talented roster expected to do great things this year, the one question mark was would the players be able to mesh with their new coach and form a quick bond heading into the season. Luckily for Sandy Creek fans and possibly bad news for the rest of the state, Coach McKissic feels like everything has gelled quickly.

“I think it was just a match made in Heaven. They are great kids, the community is a great community and I think they bought into it very quick what I was selling, with my main goal for them is just help the kids get scholarships and get looks. I think being that that was my main goal and it wasn’t all about winning, they bought in real quick.”

It takes a special group of kids to get adjusted to a new leader so seamlessly.

“They are just great people, I can say that. The kids are a different kind than the ones I’ve worked with in the past. They are all self-motivated and they all have high GPAs and are very focused…It wasn’t a hard transition.”

The perfect recipe is in place. A fun-loving leader who can keep players motivated with a great group of kids who are hungry to compete and contend for the program’s first-ever state championship. Before long, Sandy Creek might not just be known as a football powerhouse, but a force to be reckoned with come winter time as well.


All Photos Courtesy of Anthony McKissic & Sandy Creek Basketball