Shane Shackleford, an assistant coach for the past decade under both Bill Jones and Russell Thompson, has been named the boys basketball coach at Middlesboro.
Shackleford is a 1991 graduate of Harlan High School, where he played basketball under coach Kevin Ball and was a member of the 1990 HHS team that won the first 13th Region All “A” Classic title.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be head coach here at Middlesboro. I’ve been here going on 10 years and the community has been great, we’ve got our nephews in school here,” Shackleford said. “I’m just thankful to the Lord, thankful to so many people in the administration and the school for this opportunity. I’m excited to get to work and keep building the program to where it needs to be”
The Yellow Jackets have made three straight trips to the 13th Region Tournament, winning the 52nd District Tournament title in 2012 and finishing second each of the past two years, to Harlan County in 2013 and Bell County last March.
Many are expecting next season to be a rebuilding year for MHS. The Jackets graduated five of their top seven players and senior point guard Brandon Hale and senior forward Major Edwards aren’t just the only starters returning, they’re really the only two players significant varsity experience at all.
But word got around at MHS on Wednesday that Shackleford was being named head coach and a large group of athletes came by his introductory press conference and signed up for the team. By the end of the day close to 40 new players had expressed interest in playing for Coach Shackleford. That’s a testament to the relationships he’s built with the kids and their families over the years.
“For a Class A school we’ve lost 14 seniors in three years and that’s a lot. But we had about 40 kids signing up to play and that’s exciting and humbling that they have that kind of confidence in me,” Shackleford said. “A lot of these kids I’ve been blessed to have coached them in T-ball, youth basketball and even in middle school. I’ve had just wonderful relationships with the kids and their parents. I’ve known them for a lot of years and it feels like family. The possibilities are there for us and I’m excited to see what we can build with.”
The coach says he doesn’t plan to change a lot about how the team prepares. He’d like to run a fast-paced, up tempo offense but will wait to see what his players are best at.
“I got to work for Bill Jones and Russell Thompson and those are two good coaches and two great men. I learned a lot from them and I don’t want to try and reinvent the wheel,” Shackleford said. “Coach Thompson and I had a saying: There’s no home court in defense and rebounding. I like the uptempo game, my roots are in that style of getting out an running. But it’s my job to find out what kind of kids we have and what style suits them best. But you’ve got to play hard on defense and you’ve got to be able to rebound. Those things are a constant wherever you go.”