Not many coaches at any level get the opportunity to step into the type of talent that Zach Ferrell has inherited. Not that he's complaining.
Ferrell recently took over the head boys' basketball position at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy, replacing Bill Eller, who served as head coach the previous three seasons. Ferrell spent four seasons playing point guard at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and has most recently been helping out the Chattanooga Steam AAU program.
Hamilton Heights headmaster Duke Stone also announced that former Baylor School standout Jonathan Adams will serve as Ferrell's assistant. Adams played collegiately at Old Dominion University and had served as UTC's director of basketball operations the past two seasons.
"Zach and Jonathan have done some individual skills training for us, and with the international players we have, that's important," Stone said. "We're going to be athletic enough to compete at a high level, and some of the travels we'll be making, Zach's accustomed to because of AAU.
"We have some guys that we're certain are going to get offers, and with Zach and Jonathan both playing Division I basketball, we feel they'll be able to provide some guidance having gone through the process as well."
Ferrell's new team would make a lot of college coaches drool: He has a 6-foot-9 freshman post; a 6-foot-11 sophomore center; a 6-foot-6 wing -- all from Nigeria. He will also have a 6-foot-4 point guard from Serbia and a 6-foot-7 Dominican on the roster.
"With the kids have here, this is a great opportunity," Ferrell said. "We have an environment and a culture that will be able to pursue a program of excellence, honor, and the ability to glorify God. When I decided to go into teaching and coaching, Hamilton Heights was definitely a stop that was appealing to me. With the flexibility they have, I'll be able to run the program in a certain way outside of the rules and restrictions of the TSSAA. The talent and ability they have is very appealing, but I was also looking for the best fit as far as being a teacher and the best place to grow a program and be able to run it in a way that doesn't have as much restriction on what we can and can't do."
He understands that the influx of talent at Hamilton Heights will cause the program to have to schedule more nationally, as some area teams have made the decision not to play them and others might join that group in recent years since the Hawks are attempting to become a national program.
"I try not to worry about things I can't control," Ferrell said. "The amount of size and athletic ability we have is uncommon for the high school level, but we have great kids that are respectable and coachable. You see a lot of kids that have great size and ability, but are dumb to the game, so the opportunity to mold, shape and help them improve is very exciting.
"We definitely want to play local schools. We understand some might not want to play us, but we will be willing to play as many teams as would want to play us."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.
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