Northwestern has officially named Larry Davis its new boys basketball coach, according to a release from the high school Monday.
Davis, fresh off leading Lewisville High to its first state championship since 1976, takes over for longtime Trojans coach Mike Gossett.
It feels great, Davis said during a phone interview. Im excited about the opportunity, although Im saddened to leave Lewisville. I got to know the players and their families this year and it was kind of hard to break away.
In a move that was speculated about for two or three weeks, Northwestern administrators were thrilled to hire a rising coaching prospect in Davis, the former University of South Carolina basketball standout.
Larry brings a wealth of experience as a player, Northwestern principal James Blake said in the release. Hes going to bring a lot of energy and passion to the NHS Boys Basketball program.
Northwestern athletic director Lauren West added, Coach Davis is among the most promising young coaches in the game. I am excited about the coaching ability, toughness and energy that he will bring to our program.
The Trojans finished the 2012-2013 season with a record of 12-10, including a 60-57 loss to Spring Valley in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs. Gossett was ousted shortly thereafter, leading Northwestern to Davis doorstep.
Its really a wonderful school with a lot of promise, said Davis, citing the success of the Trojans football, baseball, track and field and soccer programs. It gives me a great challenge and a great honor to come into the situation and try and get the basketball program mentioned in the same light.
Moving to a Class AAAA school in Rock Hill offered some unique advantages not found in Richburg, or Class A.
Just walking around campus, I noticed the size, said Davis, who does not teach. Theres some tall kids.
In two seasons as Lewisville coach, Davis led the Lions to a 31-20 record. He was recently named the Heralds All-Area Boys Basketball Coach of the Year, and his success, and pedigree, inevitably attracted suitors. Davis was contacted by a number of schools during the Class A state playoffs, but he waited until the Lions season concluded.
I felt like the work there was undone, he said. I wanted to focus and give my total attention to our goals at hand, and the team.
After the Lions claimed the Class A title in Columbia, Davis was again inundated by calls about jobs. Northwestern was well positioned among the chasers with its large school size and talent pool, and tough region schedule. Davis said that matching wits with the coaches in Region 3 will be one of the most interesting parts of his new job.
Being on the sideline going against those guys will only make me a better coach, so Im excited about the opportunity.
Davis was a prolific scorer at Denmark-Olar High in the early 1990s, setting a number of state records. He played two seasons at North Carolina, winning a national championship in 1993, before transferring to South Carolina where he starred for the Gamecocks in a dynamic three-guard backcourt alongside Melvin Watson and B.J. McKie.
Davis will be reunited with Watson to a degree; hes coached South Pointes boys the past two years, and the two faced each other twice this year in pre-region play. Their teams will again face off twice a season in the coming years, but now those matchups will carry a little more weight.
Youre absolutely right, said Davis. Melvins done a great job with that program over there, really motivating those kids and getting them to where theyre competitive night in and night out.
He respected Watson for building a rapport with those players where they believe what hes trying to teach them and they play hard every night.
Davis successfully established that connection at Lewisville, where he won a state title. His style of basketball might be one of the first keys in getting Northwestern back to the top in basketball.
We want to bring some excitement, let the kids have fun and play up-tempo, he said. We want to compete every night. If we do that, I think well be happy with the outcome of a lot of the games.
Bret McCormick • 329-4032. Twitter: @BretJust1T