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Jim Hicks has only been in the eighth region as a basketball coach for three years, but he’s already made a mark on the sport he loves.
Hicks, coach for the Grant County High School Braves boys basketball team, has been named 8th Region Coach of the Year.
“We have worked extremely hard and over overachieved as a team,” Hicks said.
One of his goals upon coming to Grant County as a head coach was to get the Braves in position to make it to regional competition.
This year’s team went 24-6. This year they made a trip to the regional tournament but were knocked out by Oldham County 61 – 44.
Hicks said the team struggled because they didn’t have time to recover for the Feb. 25 game after a tough battle against Simon Kenton on Feb. 22 in the district tournament.
“I have a special group of young men that have put in countless hours and done everything that I have asked of them,” Hicks said. ‘I also have a great coaching staff in Joe Utter and Dustin Plunkett.
Hicks started coaching as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Everts High School in Harlan County. He then went on to coach under Travis Ford at Campbellsville University before deciding that he wanted to get back to coaching high school.
He then coached under his uncle, Billy Hicks, at Scott County and it was here that he feels he grew the most as a coach.
“Those three years under him were the most valuable of them all because he pushed me so hard and I learned so much from him,” Hicks said.
Hicks had his first head coaching job at Owsley County. After a year, he moved to Greenup County, amassing a 64-50 record with a district championship in five years.
Following Greenup County, Hicks took the head coaching job at Bath County for three years before taking the job at Grant County.
Hicks enjoys the game because it allows a coach to develop relationships. He especially likes practices.
“I love practices,” he said. “I have become real close with this team. They have a great work ethic and are very coachable. Our basketball team is a family. My players know that I love them and they love me.”
In addition to having buy in from the players, Hicks said having the support of the boosters and parents is essential to developing a good program.
“The coach’s relationship with the boosters is very important because we rely on them heavily for funding.” Hicks said.
He credited a strong personal relationship with Bobby Burgess, president of the Grant County Basketball Boosters, as well as Burgess’s wife, Kathy, J.B. Curd and several parents for helping him build the Grant County’s boys basketball program.
But it’s the players and whether they let their coach guide them that ultimately decides how successful the program will be.
“I base my philosophy around what I call ‘player development.’ We spend a lot of time in practice working on fundamentals and shooting,” Hicks said.
Hicks is vocal on the sidelines, often yelling, even screaming, at his players.
“I’m very dedicated, passionate and out willing to work anyone,” Hick said. “I think the parents and my players know that I have the player’s best interest (at heart.) I am very intense and that is who I am. That is how I played as a player and how I coach as a coach.”
After the accolades settle, Hicks said he’ll go back to what he knows and where he most comfortable – in the gym.
“We’ll take a little time off and then we will get back to work in the off season and try to get stronger and faster with our weight program and continue to get better fundamentally,” he said.
The Braves will lose one senior, Austin Anglin, to graduation but will return several veteran players next year.