A point guard is like a coach on the floor, according to the adage.
So it seems fitting that former Kettle Run point guard Christian Yancey is now the Cougars’ new boys basketball head coach.
Yancey graduated from Kettle Run in 2014 after helping lead the Cougars to one of the best basketball seasons in program history. Coached by Troy Washington, that 2013-14 team earned a region berth and finished with a 15-7 record. But after the 2018-19 season Washington took a teaching job at nearby Battlefield, leaving Kettle Run’s head coach position open for the first time since the school opened in 2008.
Before departing, Washington suggested that Yancey should apply to replace him. The 23-year-old seemed skeptical at first after serving only as Kettle Run’ freshman coach last season.
“Being as young as me … I was like ‘That’s a pretty big responsibility,’” Yancey said. “But throughout the summer I thought more and more about it. I thought I’d kick [myself] if I didn’t try for this job.”
So Yancey did a series of interviews with activities director Paul Frye, who had years ago similarly started as a 23-year-old coach at Liberty.
“So he had no concerns about my age,” Yancey said. “Coming out of college the job market is rough. So it means the world that I have people around me that remember my name and believe in my character and vision.”
Yancey graduated from Radford University and is pursuing a master’s degree in education online with Grand Canyon University while also teaching special education at Kettle Run. So his plate is plenty full after taking over as the Cougars’ varsity coach.
“It’s got it’s ebbs and flows, but it think it’s been going well,” Yancey said. “I went into this knowing it’s a big leap. The coaching side is great. The administrative side is what I have to get used to. You have to get organized early.”
Most of Kettle Run’s players are also new to the varsity team this season. Yancey has only four returning varsity players, including one returning part-time starter in Drew Tapscott, a point guard like his new coach.
“He’s a great scorer,” Yancey said. “Probably our best scorer, but it just simply depends on the night. Any night [any] one of them can go off.”
Tapcott is a senior with varsity experience, as are guard Garrett Trimble, center Cole Haynes and guard Jonathan Keen, Kettle Run’s sixth man. Rounding out the starting lineup are sophomore forward Jacob Robinson and junior forward Joey Shull.
“He’s a big guy but he can move,” Yancey said of Shull. “He’s one of our best passers, a great rebounder and a smart kid.”
The Cougars’ bench also features the likes of freshman Jordan Tapscott and juniors A.J. Williams and Alden Williams. They’re among the 15 players Yancey chose to keep on the varsity roster, giving Kettle Run a deep bench.
“We like to push and run it a little bit,” he said. “Going to be a fast-paced team. We have a lot of fast guards.”
They will try to help improve upon the 15-11 record the Cougars’ posted last winter.
“I have very high expectations for the team,” Yancey said. “We’re extremely young, but if our old guys can mentor the young guys ... I think we can be very, very successful.”