It was probably only going to be only a matter of time before Brad Napier would be a head coach anyway.
Still, Logan High School boys’ basketball coach Mark Hatcher said it was difficult to lose Napier.
Napier, a Harts native and longtime Hatcher assistant coach, was recently named head basketball coach at neighboring Mingo Central.
Napier had reportedly applied twice in recent years for the Chapmanville Regional job.
Instead, he has landed with the Carolina Blue and White of the Mingo Central Miners.
Napier replaces Frankie Smith as Mingo Central’s coach. Smith, a former head coach at Tug Valley, former assistant at Miami (Ohio) and ex-head coach at Division II Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan, left Mingo Central recently before the 2012-13 basketball season got started and landed a basketball coaching job at Sheldon Clark High School in Inez, Ky.
Duane Estep coached the Miners last season in Mingo Central’s inaugural hoop campaign before stepping down.
As high school basketball practices begin on Monday across the county and the state, Hatcher said he wishes Napier good fortunes with the Miners.
Napier had been regarded as one of the top assistant coaches in the state for years.
Hatcher actually lost two assistants.
Rodney “Soupy” Campbell, another top assistant at Logan for the last several years, has also stepped down.
“It’s a good thing for Brad,” Hatcher said. “He’s been with us for 11 years as an assistant coach. It was time for him to have a job. I’m really proud for him and glad for him. I think he’ll do a great job over there. I’m going to miss him and I’m going to miss Soupy. I’ve lost two coaches this year. Rodney Campbell had been with me for 10 years and Brad was here 11 so I really lost two good assistants who won two state championships with me and was state runner-up one time. Soup had some health issues. We all have accomplished a lot together and I’ll always remember that. They will always have a place here at Logan. I think Brad will do a great job at Mingo Central.”
In another off-season twist, Hatcher’s dad Allan, was named as the head coach at Chapmanville Regional High School just down the road. The elder Hatcher was the former head coach at Perry Central (Ky.) and at the old Williamson High School where he won the state championship with the Wolfpack.
“It’s been pretty good so far,” the younger Hatcher said of having his dad just 10 miles away coaching. “It’s been pretty neat to have so many coaches close by who are close to me. You can call and just about get a tape on anybody or a scouting report on just about anyone. All three of us sat down and got our freshman team schedule done. There’s a lot of benefits to have people that you know and who you are comfortable with right around you.”
If you were wondering, the answer is no.
No, Logan does not play either Mingo Central or Chapmanville this season.
It could happen as soon as next season but there will not be a son vs. father or teacher vs. pupil matchup this season as the Wildcats are not scheduled to play either the Tigers or the Miners.
“It’s going to be weird when we do play each other,” Mark Hatcher said. “I’m sure that that’s going to happen. It will be fun. We don’t have to play either one of those two this year. I can just sit back and watch them play and have a good time with it. Next year and in the future we’re talking about playing. It will be interesting to see how that all works out.”
Hatcher survived a health scare over the summer when cancer was found in one of his kidneys. He went into surgery to have the cancer removed and has made a full recovery.
“Everything seems to be going good,” he said. “I have to do another test here in the next week or so. Hopefully, the results will be good. It was an eye-opening experience and it was a life-changing experience in a lot of ways. I had kidney cancer in my right kidney. I found out right after that that Coach Roy Williams had tumors in his kidney and would have to have some of the same kinds of surgery and treatments that I had. Kelly Wells, the coach at the University of Pikeville, has had some health issues with his kidneys. It was a different summer not being able to be with the team as much.”
The Wildcats are scheduled to open the season Dec. 11 at home against Hurricane. Logan then hosts Berwick, Pa., on Dec. 14. Berwick is led by former Scott High School coach Jason Kingery, who recently led the Skyhawks to the state tournament. Logan’s season-opening home stand then concludes with a Dec. 20 contest against Huntington.
Logan has two preseason scrimmages set up.
On Nov. 24, the Wildcats play at Belfry, Ky. LHS then scrimmages Beckley on Dec. 6 at home. Logan hosts Belfry during the regular season at the Wildcats’ annual King Coal Classic tourney.
Logan lost top scorers Stevie Browning and Keaton Johnson to graduation. Another key senior, Matthew Greene, has also been lost as well as 6-4 junior guard Da’jon Streeter, who has left Logan to go to a school in Las Vegas, Nev.
The Wildcats will look to returning senior guard A.J. Reynolds and senior forward C.J. Williams this season.
“A.J. really came on during the summer,” Hatcher said. “He played really well. C.J. also had a good summer.”
Senior guard Trent Dalton is also back.
“Trent had a good summer but he had broken his hand during the three-week June period,” Hatcher said.
Brynden “Worm” Street, a top leaper and rebounder, also returns for Logan.
“We’re going to be counting on Worm,” Hatcher said.
Younger players Z. Minnick and Chase Preston, junior Zach Miller and also Cameron Sammons could also play major roles for the Wildcats this season.
“We have a deep group but just not a lot of seniors,” Hatcher said. “Z. Minnick has had a really good fall. Zach Miller was probably the guy who stood out the most and made the biggest jump this summer. He’s a junior and he came on strong for us.”
Hatcher said Streeter is now attending Durango High School in Las Vegas. He had transferred to Logan from Niagara Falls, N.Y. He has reportedly been receiving offers from Division I schools Boston University, Duquesne and Canisius.
Logan may be without 6-8 center T.J. Tomblin, at least in the short term. Tomblin, who also plays football at Logan, is reportedly injured.
The Wildcats have their first practice on Monday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. at Willie Akers Arena.
Logan, which went 17-9 last season and lost in the first round of the Class AAA state tournament, is hoping to make its third straight trip to Charleston.