King takes reigns of Green boys

Barrick steps down for health concerns

By Paul Boggs - [email protected]

J.D. King has been hired as the new boys basketball head coach at Green High School.

J.D. King has been hired as the new boys basketball head coach at Green High School.

Submitted photo

FRANKLIN FURNACE — This wasn’t exactly how J.D. King planned on becoming a head basketball coach.

But as they say, events in life happen for a reason or reasons —and now King holds his coaching court at Green High School.

That’s because, following the mid-May resignation of newly-hired Green boys coach Tom Barrick, King was recently hired to fill the post —as the Bobcats’ offseason summer program concludes this weekend.

King takes over for two-year head coach Scott Blankenship, and even the three-week head coach Barrick.

Two months ago on April 21, the legendary Barrick was officially hired by the Green Local Schools Board of Education in a unanimous 5-0 vote —being named its new boys basketball head coach, with the 2022-23 campaign to mark his 34th season as a head coach in Ohio.

But Barrick, by mid-May, was forced to resign that position —due to what has been informed as serious health concerns.

In a telephone call to The Portsmouth Daily Times, Barrick confirmed the nature of those health issues —and said they would prevent him from coaching basketball this upcoming season.

So, the Bobcats abruptly became a “next man up” situation in late May —but the Green BOE quickly turned to King, who was hired and just completed an abbreviated summer schedule with his young club.

King discussed his hiring during a recent interview with The Portsmouth Daily Times.

When Barrick was hired, the 2004 East graduate and veteran East assistant King claimed he was content with his current assistant’s position with Wheelersburg —where he had been on Steven Ater’s staff the past two years.

“At that time, when the Green job came open, I was content with Wheelersburg, because that’s where I live and my kids go to school there. Some time passed, Coach Barrick took the job and I was happy for him and happy for the school because I knew what kind of coach Green was getting. Then it was a crazy Monday, a few weeks later,” said King.

A manic Monday (May 16) it indeed was — when King learned of Barrick’s impending resignation, and on the same night he received a telephone call from Ater, who was leaving Wheelersburg to become the head boys coach at his alma mater of Chesapeake.

While Wheelersburg worked quickly to replace Ater with King’s fellow Pirate assistant Alex Prater, the Bobcat job re-opened all of the sudden — and King contemplated it.

King, for 12 or 13 years at East, was an assistant to Travis Bradford —after completing work towards his college degree at Shawnee State University.

“Those two events the same day forced me to re-evaluate the situation, and I really mulled over this job initially. My experience the last couple of years at Wheelersburg with Coach (Steven) Ater and Coach (Alex) Prater was really good. It’s a really good environment there, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave it,” he said. “But those decisions and choices changed, and so did mine.”

King also spent the past academic year teaching in the Green district —high school social studies to be exact.

As for his quick turnaround regarding the Bobcats’ shortened summer, he did admit to “being definitely behind schedule” —but said “the kids have been great so far.”

King added, for the Bobcats’ open gyms in June, “we’ve had about 16 or 17 kids consistently in the gym, so that’s been good.”

“The transition has been different. I think the kids and the community were very excited when Coach Barrick was named, and he had started doing a lot of early work. So I am sure it was deflating for the boys when he had to announce his resignation so quickly. Then about a week-and-a-half passed before I officially was hired. We’ve been in a little bit of panic mode trying to hurry and schedule some things, but the big picture right now for us, and Coach Barrick talked about it too, is culture change here,” said the coach. “We’ve got some great kids here and some really good pieces here. I think teaching here this year was a really good trial run in determining if I wanted to coach here also. There are a lot of really good people here. It’s just a matter of putting in the time and changing the culture of expectations.”

The young Bobcats have finished below .500 the past two seasons, despite sporting scoring and rebounding machine Levi Sampson —a two-time Division IV all-Ohioan, including as a second-team all-stater a year ago.

There will also be a brand-spanking new physical look to the Green campus starting next year —with new school buildings and basketball gymnasiums for fall of 2023, in addition to a new football field for this year with a state-of-the-art regulation eight-lane track.

Barrick’s excitement for the new facilities was obvious, but King cautioned “culture change” is more important.

“New facilities without changed behavior really doesn’t change anything. We are going to have top-of-the line facilities, but that should motivate kids to want to show up and be here more. Championship-level programs, they act and behave like champions long before they ever become champions. That includes showing up for weight room workouts, showing up for open gyms, making sure your teammates are here,” he said. “It’s buying into that culture that if you put in the hard work, you’re going to be rewarded for it.”

That is King’s culture plan, and now for his on-the-court philosophy.

It’s a desired numbers advantage of course —and a dramatic improvement on defense.

“I would like for us to play free, fast and fun, but one common principle is that if we can get the ball down the court with nobody there, then that’s an advantage for us. If we can play 3-on-2, 3-on-1, that never changes. We want those easy looks. But a bigger concern for me is defensively,” said King. “Against the better teams in the league last year, they gave up a lot of points, and weren’t even competitive against the best teams on their schedule. I’m not talking about winning. I’m talking about being competitive. That starts on the defensive end.”

But King believes he can bring the Bobcats’ best out, provided they want to change for the better themselves.

“I don’t think Coach Barrick would have wanted this job if he didn’t think it would be successful. I’m looking at it that we have some really good and confident pieces here, but these pieces have to learn to play together,” he said. “I’m extremely excited to be back in the SOC I (Southern Ohio Conference Division I), and to be here at Green. Whatever may have precipitated my taking this job, call it what you want. I am looking forward to this opportunity.”

J.D. King has been hired as the new boys basketball head coach at Green High School. King has been hired as the new boys basketball head coach at Green High School. Submitted photo
Barrick steps down for health concerns

By Paul Boggs

[email protected]

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved