Whitesburg KY
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Partly sunny

Mountain rumor mill active again

It’s a natural-born right for an eastern Kentucky. sports fan to start the rumor mill each spring as we start closing down the schools for the year and head into the summer season. The large majority of these never come to fruition, they only pass the time of the lazy, hazy days of summer and then more times than not the same coaches and players return to the same schools.

Having said that, I’ve learned over the years to never say never.

The early word across the mountains is there may be more player transfers than coaching changes. That could prove to be very true with the few moves already made with June Buchanan School stalwarts Tate Cox and Brian Hall leaving the Crusader camp and enrolling at Knott Central. Only time will tell about the eligibility status in both those cases and each could be approached in a different manner. I predict there will be more player transfers just as eye opening as this one but don’t feel comfortable putting it in print just yet. Some players may even be moving from one region to another.

One thing for sure, I can’t see any move in the coaching fraternity to affect the mountain scene more than last year’s blockbuster move of Perry Central’s longtime successful coach Al Holland to cross-town rival Hazard, and then well respected and veteran Allan Hatcher coming all the way across the Commonwealth to PCC to take over the reins. Again, it’s a little too early to predict coaching vacancies because school administrators who make these decisions can wait as late as June 15 before they notify a coach if he or she will be retained for that same position for the 2008-09 school year. The school system would still be obligated to retain them for the daily school/teacher activities, but it could legally remove them from any extracurricular activities as late as June 15.

Listed below, however, are a few tidbits of notes at random that we’ve uncovered since our last column that are very true:

• The worst kept secret in Harlan County the last four months is now official with Mike Jones being named the boys’ basketball coach of the newly consolidated Harlan County High. Anthony Nolan was named the girls’ basketball coach at the same press conference. The last phase of the new school, which is the main school building and adjacent gymnasium, is on schedule for dedication in the fall, according to school officials.

• The WYMT sports department announced last week the eight participating teams for the 2009 WYMT Whayne Supply Mountain Classic: Host Perry Central; Hazard; Knott Central; Letcher Central; Allen Central; East Ridge; Johnson Central; Clay County.

• Jade Haddix, the heir apparent to the Breathitt County quarterback position, reportedly has been turning in some impressive performances in some early weekend camps and combines across the tri-state area at some colleges. Jade is a junior and younger brother of Justin Haddix, who just one year ago completed a very successful four-year stint as the quarterback at Western Kentucky University. Both are the sons of Daniel Haddix, who has been a loyal supporter for many years of the Bobcat football program.

• Veteran coach Steve Wright of South Laurel notified me last week of a new hoopfest that is to take place at South Laurel the third weekend in January. Seems as though the corporate sponsors and organizers of the highly successful Marshall County Hoopfest are bringing their ideas and concepts to the eastern part of the Commonwealth to hopefully begin a new tradition here.

• As expected, two of the mountains’ elite senior quarterbacks, Charlie Banks of Letcher Central and Zach Lewis of Clay County, are already drawing a lot of attention from the college scouts going into the summer camp and combine evaluation season. Look for both of these fine young men to further their careers in both football and academics on the college level after the 2008 football season is complete.

• The new triple-header format of two underclassmen boys’ all star games followed by the senior elite gold medal game in the fourth annual Adidas Appalachian All Star Classic was pronounced highly successful by cogame directors Ira and Harold Combs of Tri State Sports Services. Timmy Knipp, the 6’7″ freshman center from Elliott County, stole the show from highly touted sophomores, Cody Miller of Knox Central and Josh Whitaker of Hazard, in the freshman/ sophomore Future Stars Game, hitting six 3-pointers from long range and walking away with scoring honors of 31 points. In the senior gold medal all star game, Landon Slone of Paintsville hit a 25-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer for the North All Stars to win the game 97-96. Slone spurned scholarship offers from a few mid major colleges when UK coach Billy Gillispie offered him an opportunity as a preferred walk-on for the Big Blue.

• Buford Williams, the longtime coach and official from Jackson City Schools and the Breathitt County School System, was inducted into the 14th Region Coaches’ Association Court of Honor last weekend at its annual all star gala. Williams was honored for his many contributions as a coach and official in basketball and baseball over his 30-year career as well as his constant drive in overcoming his bout with physical disabilities that would have kept many on the sidelines watching instead of participating. Kudos to my ole buddy; there’ll never be another one like you.

• The 14th Region Basketball Officials Association evidently will have a new assigning secretary for its association in the upcoming year. In last week’s meeting the 14th Region schools’ representatives voted to open up the position for new applicants instead of rehiring Hazard Principal Donald “Happy” Mobeline, who has held that position the last two years. According to sources who attended the meeting the new criteria adopted for applying for the position are that the applicant must have five years of varsity basketball officiating experience and must be employed presently by a 14th Region member school. A committee of eight people (two from each district) was established to survey the applicants.

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