Thursday, July 12, 2006
Smith takes over Potts Camp boys
By BARRY BURLESON
Coach Brian Smith worked some winning magic in South Mississippi. Now he’s coming north to Marshall County.
Smith, who led Raleigh to more than 100 wins the last six years, was recently hired as the new boys basketball coach at Potts Camp High School He replaces Chris Ferrell, who is moving into administration as one of the assistant principals at Byhalia Elementary and Middle School (formerly Henry).
“I’m excited to be in North Mississippi,” Smith said. “I’ve always heard about the basketball tradition here, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
The last four years, Class 3A Raleigh went 83-43.
“We had great success,” Smith said. “We were one game away in 2003 from a real chance at a state championship.”
Raleigh lost to Prentiss, featuring star player Al Jefferson, by three points in a “go-to-Jackson” game that season, according to Smith. Prentiss went on to win the Class 3A crown. Raleigh finished 24-6.
Smith coached Dandy Dozen player Craig Craft, now playing at the University of Southern Mississippi. The 2005 team featuring Craft went 25-8.
“I had some really good kids come through the program,” Smith said. “We made the playoffs (out of district) three of the last four years.”
He is a native of Seminary. After graduation from USM, he was the head coach for four years at Class 1A Salem High School.
Smith said after six successful seasons at Raleigh he was looking to make a move.
“I found out about the opening at Potts Camp and knew the school had a great tradition in basketball,” he said. “I called Mr. (Ken) Basil (principal) and told him I was interested.”
Smith and his family – wife Alicia, daughters Alex, 9, and Marisa, 4, and son Billy Ray, 2 – visited Marshall County.
“We really liked it,” he said. “I decided it was the place for us, and everything worked out.”
Smith had his first meeting with Potts Camp players Thursday afternoon of last week.
“I’m excited about the group of kids we have here at this time,” Smith said.
“We might be man-to-man and pressing, or we might be in a zone. It depends on what our personnel looks like and who we’re playing.
“I do prefer the up-tempo game. I like to get out and run. That always worked good for us at Raleigh. I was blessed there with some really good guards.”
He said his job will also include monitoring his players’ performance and progress in the classroom. He will also be a teacher at Potts Camp.
“They’re student athletes and students first,” Smith said. “I’ve found that most of my good players are also good students. The two go hand-in-hand. The education end is extremely important.”
He knows his Class 2A Cardinals, who finished 16-16 a year ago, will again a face a rugged schedule against the likes on Ingomar, Ashland, H.W. Byers, Holly Springs and Byhalia.
“Good competition helps you get better,” Smith said. “I’m very excited to be here. I want to continue to build this program and put a team on the floor that the school and community can be proud of.”
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