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CREEDMOOR — Donald Kent has been tapped to lead the South Granville Lady Vikings basketball program for the 2019-2020 season.
Kent hopes to share a wealth of knowledge with his players both on and off the court starting with individual workouts and open gym.
“We had a good group show up for individual workouts and now we had seen about 10 players in open gym. We are hoping some of the incoming freshman will take advantage of the open gym time,” Kent said.
Kent added he has seen marked improvement from those who are attending open gym and expects the players to continue to hone their craft heading into official workouts.
Success has followed Kent during his coaching career. At Fike High School in Wilson, he helped the program make the state playoffs five times.
He led East Wake Academy for six seasons to a 113-48 record and he was an assistant coach at the 2007 North Carolina Coaches Association East-West All-Star Game.
He then led the Cary Lady Imps basketball program from 2008-2012. He took the team to the sectional finals in the state playoffs on 2011-2012.
Kent then found his way to William Peace University as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator before being named interim head coach in 2016.
“If you can develop relationships with your players, you will get respect,” Kent said of his style of coaching, which he said starts with developing relationships. “I had to do the same thing when I was a teacher. You also have to show the players respect as well and I applied that in the classroom. I consider the basketball court to be a classroom and I am teaching. We started back during the school year working on skill development and I let them know that I have high expectations and we are going to do things with order and structure.”
Kent will have some experienced depth at his disposal next year, as there are a number of returning players set to play for South Granviile. Ken pointed out that rising senior Kaylin Bryant has been a vocal leader during workouts.
“Right from the beginning of workouts, Bryant has been encouraging to the younger players,” Kent said. “She has been trying to help them out. If I was not seeing something or if I didn’t say anything to them, then she would say something to them.”
Kent plans on developing a winning program and he hopes more players will show up or some that play other sports will play basketball. He said he wants the players that are showing up to go out and talk with other players about coming to practice and trying out for the team.
“I have one freshman that has been coming to workouts and she has been talking with me about the difference between the middle school practices and the workouts we have been doing,” Kent said. “She has told me that she has learned a lot already. I am hoping she will go out and share that with the members of that team that will be incoming freshman.”
Kent is aiming for South Granville to bring a different level of intensity on offense and defense this season.
“We want to apply pressure defense that will lead to turnovers and easy baskets, but we still have to be able to run a halfcourt offense,” he said. I have watched a lot of game tape from last year and the Lady Vikings liked to shoot the three last season. We are going to be more of an inside-outside team. I believe games are won by the inside-out play.
“It’s not about shooting percentage for us, it is about getting more shots than the other team,” he continued. “There are two ways to get more shots — one way is the offensive rebound. You shoot it and miss it, you go after the ball and get the rebound. The second way to get more shots is defense, by creating turnovers, fast breaks and finishing.”
Kent has been working with the players on footwork and skill development to try to make their moves habit so they do not have to think before making the pass or cutting to the basket.
He added at the end of the day he wants his team to be known as one of the most intense teams to hit the court.
“The late Pat Summitt had a team motto, ‘play hard, play smart, play together and play with confidence,’” Kent said. “We are going to try to adopt that motto. When we break our huddles, I say ‘play’ and they say ‘hard.’ I am trying to instill that in them from the beginning by trying to play hard all of the time.”
The 2019-2020 schedule has not been released yet, but the Lady Vikings will have to face Roanoke Rapids, Webb and Granville Central in conference action.