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Hoop Dreams Do Come True


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I am going to change gears in today's blog by looking into Kentucky high school basketball history. It is the dream of all Kentucky high school players and coaches to play or coach in the state tournament. I chased that dream for four years as a player and now after 24 years of coaching I am still chasing the same dream. An elite group of people have reached the Sweet 16 as a player and as a head coach.


Let's talk a look at the select few from the 16th Region. Brandon Baker is the only boys' player and coach to do it with a 16th region boys' team. He played for East Carter's region championship team in 1986 and led the Raiders to a region championship as their coach in 2010. Mandy Layne starred for girls' state champion West Carter in 200o and this past season coached the Russell Lady Devils to a region championship in 2016. Boyd County's Pete Fraley achieved the "crossover" player and coach titles. He played for the Lions in their 1984 region title run and has coached the Lady Lions to a pair of regional crowns. A couple local legends won titles in two different regions. George Cooke led Marysville High School to a trip to the Sweet 16 as a player and then coached Fairview to its only region title in 1975. Current Pikeville College coach Kelly Wells played in three state tournaments for Rowan County and then led Mason County to a state title as their head coach. These fabulous five have definitely lived out their hoop dreams on the floor and stalking the sidelines.


With the help of some coaching friends and Kentucky hoop fans, I have compiled a list of coaches who achieved the player/coach double around the Commonwealth. I am hoping if there are more coaches/players on the list my readers will contact me through Twitter, Facebook, or text. Below is the list I have compiled:


Allen Feldhaus Jr

Chris O'Hearn

David Henley

Terry Birdsong

Warren Cooper

Roscoe Shackleford

Tommy McKenzie

Rodney Rowe

Brandon Salsman

Jason Booher

Roderick Drake

Larry Wood


Several on the list have won state championships as coaches. Rodney Rowe has taken both boys' and girls teams to the Sweet 16 as a coach and also played for Virgie in the Greatest Show in Hoops. There are lots of great coaches around the state that excelled as players as well. This group has pulled off the rare double as a player and a coach. I am sure they enjoyed taking fifteen boys or girls to the the state tournament just as much as they enjoyed playing in the event. Kudos to these coaches for their rare achievement.





Check out my blog at pearlvisionblog.wordpress.com

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Just to add a bit more the Tommy McKenzie. He has won the 15th Region as a Player (2000), Assistant Coach (2006), and Head Coach (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). He has also been named 15th Region POY and 15th Region COY all at the same school (Johnson Central).


I wonder how many have got the POY and COY in same region?

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