NEWTOWN – New Mingo Central boys’ basketball coach Brad Napier is enthusiastic as he starts his career as a head coach.
Napier was a longtime assistant coach at Logan High School. He was recently named as the head coach for the Miners.
Napier began his tenure on Monday, November 12 and was entering his second week of drilling the Miners. He is also teaching Physical Education at MCHS.
“Practices have been good,” Napier said. “So far the kids are working hard. We have been doing a lot of conditioning.”
“We’re a little behind on some things because I didn’t get to work with them this summer,” Napier said. He took over after Frankie Smith resigned and took the head coaching position at Sheldon Clark at the end of September.
Several seniors graduated from the Miner’s first season under former head coach Duane Estepp, who resigned last March during the week of the state tournament.
However, Napier has players with experience and potential. Senior Austin Banks, a first team WDN All-Area guard returns for his final season. He was the starting point guard as a sophomore at Williamson before the consolidation. Banks can also play shooting guard.
Junior Alex “Booger” Lee also returns and will likely start at small forward. He started a few games last season and got valuable experience.
Marquis Cunningham, a 6-6 center, should see action down in the paint. Another lanky senior, 6-5 Jason West, has also been working hard and should see playing time, according to Napier.
Several other players are battling to see playing time for the first-year head coach. They are senior shooting guard Matt Lester, junior guard Julius Hatcher, junior forward Trevor Abbott, senior power forwards Matt Barker and Garth Simpkins and several other players are vying for time on the court.
“I’m really excited and looking forward to this season,” Napier said at practice. “We have a lot of work to do, but as the season progresses, we should get better.”
“All of these communities have a great basketball tradition,” Napier said. “That is the kind of program that I’ve been around and that I like being a part of. That is one of the reasons I applied for the job.”
Mingo Central is a consolidation of Williamson, Matewan, Burch (Delbarton) and Gilbert. This is only the second season for the school.
“There is some talent over here,” Napier said. “I want to build a winning program.”
Napier played his high school basketball at the old Harts High School for the legendary Harry Kirk as the starting point guard from 1995-98. Napier then attended West Virginia State College where he played basketball from 1998 to 2002.
Napier had served as an assistant under Mark Hatcher at Logan for 11 years. He was a big part of the Wildcats success the past few seasons.
Julius “Boo” Hatcher is the assistant coach. He served as one of the assistants last season.