Pope John Paul II High has a new boys basketball head coach after hiring former Knights’ assistant Charles Wade.
Wade replaces Kip Brown, who accepted the head-coaching position at his alma mater – Beech – in April.
Wade was an assistant coach for three years when Brown began coaching the Knights during the 2011-12 season, and he also assisted former PJP II girls coach Julie Rollins as well for a season.
It is the first prep head-coaching position for Wade, who was the head basketball and football coach at Bellevue Middle School the last two seasons.
“I’m nervous but excited as well,” Wade said. “I’m very humbled.”
Two weeks ago, the Knights were set to hire Chris Cottrell, who most recently was the head coach at Davis and Elkins (W.V.) College (an National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II program), but Cottrell resigned last fall prior to the start of the 2015-16 season.
However, prior to his arrival in Hendersonville to begin the job, Cottrell accepted a position elsewhere, leaving the school scrambling to fill the vacancy with summer camps beginning.
“It put us about a month-and-a-half behind, because we thought we had our guy,” PJP II athletic director John Dempsey said. “It was on a Friday (when Cottrell declined the job). He was supposed to show up for our freshman tryouts the following Monday.”
It was at their own youth camp where they found their answer.
“(Wade and Brown) had agreed to help us do our kids’ camp,” Dempsey said. “I was walking through the gym and going to thank him for helping cover for us, and Kip had pointed at him and said he might be interested for the job. So, I walked over and talked to (Wade), and he said he’d think about it and pray about it.”
Wade initially hadn’t inquired about the position when it first became available.
“My family and I had just moved back to Hendersonville last year,” Wade said. “My wife had just started on her doctorate (degree), so I was really unsure at the time about whether I should commit to something that was going to take a lot of my time away from my family. But the second time around, my wife really encouraged me to do so.”
PJP II went 21-9 this past season, suffering a 63-43 loss at Ensworth in a Division II-Class AA state quarterfinal contest. Brown’s record at PJP II was 90-57 over five seasons, including state quarterfinal appearances in each of the last two seasons.
The Knights lost three seniors to graduation – Ryan Hatten, Nick Nixon and Trent Griffin.
Wade has familiarity with the rising senior class, which includes Jalon Cambridge, C.J. Laws, Jamaal Thompson and Matthew Galvin.
“I’ve coached some of these kids – the senior class – when they were freshmen,” Wade said. “I knew some of the underclassmen from visiting Kip’s games and practices from time to time, so I think it’s going to make the transition really smooth.”
Wade said he doesn’t want to bring too many changes to the Knights’ style of play. He expects to run a high-tempo offense with full-court, man-to-man defense, as well as a few other wrinkles.
“I’ve learned a lot from Kip, so I’ll apply a lot of what he did,” Wade said. “They had a lot of success last year, so I’d be remiss to come in and change what was working.”
What might be the biggest challenge is the region Wade will begin his high-school head coaching career in, Division II-Class AA.
“Right now, (Brentwood Academy) has it rolling,” Wade said. “But in this region, anybody can beat anybody on a given night. It’s a challenge each night.”
Reach Chris Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 615-575-7118. Follow him on Twitter @CB_SumnerSports.