Winthrop Basketball

Kelsey staying busy filling out Winthrop coaching staff

dgantt@heraldonline.comApril 4, 2012 

— New Winthrop men’s basketball coach Pat Kelsey is a busy man.

Since being hired last week, his schedule has been a whirlwind of meetings, and workouts, and nonstop activity.

So while he hasn’t yet been introduced to the community (that press conference is Thursday), the work has been ongoing to change the face of Winthrop basketball.

He’s already hired one assistant — former Furman assistant Brian Thornton, according to two sources in the coaching industry.

Thornton played at Xavier, and was the director of basketball operations there when Kelsey was an assistant under Chris Mack. Thornton spent last season at Furman as an assistant, and is expected to be on hand Thursday when Kelsey is introduced.

Another likely addition to the staff will be Brevard College coach Mark Prosser, the son of the late Wake Forest and Xavier coach Skip Prosser. The younger Prosser has also served as an assistant at Wofford, and once his deal is finalized, would give Kelsey two coaches with some familiarity in the region.

One of the many things Kelsey’s been doing over the last five days is meeting with existing coaches and players. He has been sitting down individually with each of former coach Randy Peele’s assistants. While there’s a chance one could return, staffing questions are among the many to be finalized.

One of the first hurdles for Kelsey to clear will be assessing his new roster. He’s in the middle of conducting individual workouts with each of the returning players as he tries to gauge what he has on hand before the late signing period begins April 11.

Kelsey has conducted one full-team meeting, and has had workouts with many of his returning players already.

Some of the changes he’s implementing are cosmetic, but immediate.

Kelsey personally designed “Rock The Hill” logos that are taped up all over the walls at Winthrop Coliseum — evidence of past teams is disappearing.

The wall between the head coaches office and the team meeting room used to feature large photos of every player on the roster. Only problem was, it was the 2010-11 roster. Last year’s freshman class was never added to the wall, and the faces of former Eagles such as Robbie Dreher and Julius Francis were there all last season.

Now, only five photos are left on that wall, those of returning upperclassmen Gideon Gamble, Reggie King, Joab Jerome and Derrick Scott, along with walk-on Donovan Carter.

Filling that wall will be the next challenge.

Kelsey and his new staff will have at least three spots to fill.

Fishburne Military Academy guard Jackson Trapp, who signed a national letter of intent with Winthrop in the fall, has asked for and been granted his release.

“I talked to Pat, and he’s going to do a good job,” Fishburne coach Ed Huckaby said Tuesday. “But Jackson’s moving on. Players choose coaches as much as schools, and there’s just no relationship there. It’s a relationship business, so he’s looking forward to finding his next home.”

One player the past staff recruited that will stay is Winston-Salem, N.C.- native Jerran Foster, a point guard from the College of Southern Idaho.

He played for the same AAU team as former Wake Forest guard Chris Paul (who played while Kelsey was a Demon Deacons assistant), as well as former Winthrop guard Chris Gaynor.

Foster committed to Winthrop but hasn’t signed yet, with his transcript caught in the NCAA clearinghouse process.

Foster’s AAU coach, Andre Gould, said Tuesday that Foster’s intention is to remain with Winthrop.

“Pat’s a great coach, and he’ll be a great role model for those players,” Gould said. “I know Jerran’s excited to play for him, and all the players will be.”

Darin Gantt 803-326-4312

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