The news was shocking, to say the least. Billy Hicks, who led Scott Co. to Sweet 16 titles in 1998 and 2007, was in Hindman on Tuesday, meeting with Knott Co. Central officials about their vacant basketball coaching position. Why on earth would one of the state's premier coaches want to leave Georgetown?
Seems all is not well at Scott Co. Hicks, who recently retired, but held on to his job as coach of the Cardinals, doesn't see eye-to-eye with the county's new school superintendent, Patricia Putty, or some in the athletics department. Already, cuts have been made to the school's athletic budget, including Hicks'. Not a surprise in this time of economic uncertainty.
Word has surfaced that Hicks also must split gate revenue for all home basketball games. The Cards, one of the state's top teams each year, usually play to a packed house.
Sources tell 27 SportsFirst that Hicks has been offered the Patriots' position. Knott Co. Central would be one of the favorites to win the 14th Region next season. The school last played in a Sweet 16 in 1993, so word of Hicks' appearance at the school spread like wildfire.
Hicks would be returning to his roots. A native of Evarts, in Harlan Co., Hicks made a name for himself in the mountains, including stops at Cawood and Corbin. His fast pace brand of basketball, with in-your-face defense has become a staple at Scott Co. and would instantly be a hit in Eastern Kentucky. Again.
Sources say the coach also would be allowed to hire his son, Tyler, who played at Scott Co.
The result could mean a shift in power in the 11th Region. Scott Co. likely will be the overwhelming choice as the state's top ranked team next season. The Cards return all but big man Richie Phares, who will walk-on at Louisville. The Cards could even be one of the nation's top-rated squads.
Should Hicks leave, the new coach at Scott Co. likely will have to become a faculty member and teach classes, thanks to the county's budget issues. That might prevent the school system from hitting a home run in its search for someone to replace a man who's won more than 600 games. Hicks has built the Cardinals into one of the state's most powerful programs and, to be sure, any opening in Georgetown would attract a boatload of qualified candidates.
Of course, Hicks could return for another season at Scott Co. His team was the prohibitive favorite to win it all this past season, but a knee injury to Phares might have prevented the Cardinals from a return trip to Rupp Arena and the state tournament. With Hicks on the sidelines next season, the bullseye falls squarely on Scott Co. again, but you'd have to like their chances of playing on Saturday night in late March.
It should prove to be an interesting next few weeks in Georgetown.
Those are the highlights... Stay tuned.