Going into his third year of high school basketball, K.J. Walton is going on his third coach.
That’s not exactly the 3-for-3 players hope for. But that’s where the Brownsburg program is right now, after Mt. Vernon coach Steve Lynch was hired to replace former Butler standout Ronald Nored, who left for an assistant position at South Alabama after one year with the Bulldogs.
“It was hard to see (Nored) go,” said Walton, a 6-3 junior-to-be with Division I interest. “I developed a really good relationship with him. With him being a former college basketball player, it really helped me to grow as a player and a person. It was hard to see him leave.”
Nored, 23, is a rising star in the coaching world. He can’t be blamed for jumping at the opportunity to work under Matt Graves, a former Butler assistant. Plus, he’s back in his home state of Alabama.
It was also the risk Brownsburg took in hiring him last spring. But here’s the thing: the transition from Nored to Lynch, a former college assistant himself, shouldn’t be all that drastic. Nored is a defense-first coach; so is Lynch, who led Mt. Vernon to a 103-52 record in seven seasons.
“A lot of what we do will be dictated by our skill level and our personnel,” said Lynch, who was at Ben Davis on Saturday to watch a few of his future players at the Hoosier Jam Fest. “But we have to guard at a high level.”
Lynch commended Nored for the job he did in just one year, saying, “he established a hard-working mentality” in the program. Brownsburg started 3-8 last season before rallying to finish 11-10 and match its highest win total since Gordon Hayward and Julian Mavunga led the program to the Class 4A state title in 2008.
“I thought Ronald did a great job getting guys to buy into their roles,” Lynch said. “I think that’s why they had so much success late in the season.”
Now the challenge is to keep the momentum going after another coaching change.
“We have a great coach coming in so we’re going to keep moving forward,” Walton said. “We’ve had a chance to talk with him and we know if we don’t work hard and give 100 percent, we’re probably not going to be on the floor.”
Playing in front of Lynch on Saturday for his 16-and-under Spiece Indy Heat team, Walton showed why he’s been considered one of the state’s most talented players since his freshman year. He scored 27 and 18 points in back-to-back wins, doing it with efficiency.
“I’ve still got a long way if I want to be a great player and play at the highest level of college basketball,” Walton said. “I talked to (Lynch) about that.”
Starting with Walton, Lynch has some good pieces to build around. The new coach also doesn’t plan on going anywhere for quite a while.
“All the feedback I received on Brownsburg was positive,” Lynch said. “The community support is high and the school system is impressive. I’m excited to get started.”
Blackmon to Marion?
A Fort Wayne television station reported Friday that Fort Wayne Luers basketball coach James Blackmon Sr. has accepted the coaching position at Marion.
Blackmon is a former star player at Marion who actually accepted the job in May of 2011 before backing out and returning to Luers. This is even bigger news on the high school basketball scene because his oldest son, James Blackmon Jr., is one of the top players in the state and will be a senior next year. The 6-3 Blackmon, an Indiana recruit, returned from a knee injury as a sophomore to average more than 33 points as a junior. Blackmon has another son, sophomore-to-be Vijay, who is also receiving major Division I interest.
Reached Friday afternoon by the Star, Luers athletic director Jim Huth said he hadn’t talked with Blackmon, but acknowledged that he has plans to early this week when Blackmon returns from a tournament with his sons in Los Angeles.
“I knew he had plans to interview with (Marion), but he hasn’t said anything to (Luers about taking the job),” Huth said.
Luers was on spring break last week. Marion has a school board meeting scheduled for Wednesday.
Billy Shepherd resigned after posting a 19-25 record in two seasons at Marion.
Remember to check out the all-time boys Indiana All-Star countdown daily on the blog at blogs.indystar.com/preps. Included this week were Rodney Carney, Willie Merriweather, Steve Green, Walter McCarty, Dave Schellhase, Bryce Drew and Larry Humes.