RONDA — Former Surry Central assistant coach Brad Davis was recently named the new head basketball head coach at East Wilkes, taking over a program that didn’t win a game last season.
Davis replaces Justin Call, who stepped down after eight seasons. Call remains East Wilkes’ athletic director.
Davis, 38, is excited about his first head coaching opportunity.
“I’m excited about it. My family is excited. I was hired last Thursday. I thought I was coming back for a second interview. But they offered (the job) first thing. It seemed like a good fit.”
The Dobson native graduated from Surry Central in 1994 and went into sales. However, Davis said he had always wanted to teach and coach.
Since the late 1990s, he’s been involved in the Dobson Youth Basketball League. Davis has helped coach basketball at Surry Central for three years, last season serving as an assistant varsity coach under Ken Eiswald.
Davis, who also accepted a teaching position at East Wilkes, said he is excited about the chance to build a program.
“It’s a challenge,” Davis said.”They’ve been down for a while. I want to do everything I can to build excitement.”
The Cardinals went 0-24 this past season and have struggled in recent years — with 21 wins total in the last seven seasons. East Wilkes graduated two seniors (guard Jathan Sales and center Kehlyn Jarvis) from this year’s team.
Davis said when he interviewed with Call and Dr. Jodi Weatherman, the East Wilkes principal, he felt like they appreciated his energy and enthusiasm. Call did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
“I have an energy I’m hoping to bring that cannot help but be contagious to our players and fan base,” Davis said. “We are not going to be the same old East Wilkes, and that’s nothing against coach Call. We’ve got to play hard every single possession. I told them we are going to play hard, play smart and build a foundation.”
Davis credited a number of individuals for helping him along the way — including Eiswald, Central athletic director Myles Wilmoth, Central assistant basketball coach Jeff Edmonds, West Stokes basketball coach Dan Spainhour, West Stokes athletic director and former Mount Airy basketball coach Kevin Spainhour, and friend Kemp Phillips, a former star at North Surry and Appalachian State.
In high school, Davis played for Ross Scott and Wayne Motsinger at Surry Central, who he credits for inspiring him to become a coach.
Davis said he saw good things from his team at a camp at Guilford College.
“We had a successful camp. We won five games,” he said. “More than anything I want to get across to everybody that I’m going to give you everything I have. That’s a fact.”
Davis lives in Dobson with his wife Merry Alice, and three sons Bradley, Braxton and John Barrett. He said East Wilkes is an easy 20-minute drive. Davis added that his father-in-law Jim Wilmoth coached boys basketball at East Wilkes 36 years ago.
Surry Central and East Wilkes have met in at least one nonconference game a year for the last several seasons. Coach Eiswald said the two teams are scheduled to play again next season in Dobson.
“I’m thrilled for him. He’s a high-energy guy and a great communicator with the kids,” Eiswald said. “He’s a real good motivator. I think the kids will latch on to his motivation. They’ve had a few tough years at East Wilkes. Brad is getting the kids into the gym, and that’s what it comes down to, getting kids excited about it.”
Starmount won the Mountain Valley 1A/2A Conference conference title last season with a 14-3 league record, and Alleghany (11-4 conference) made some noise in the state playoffs. The Trojans reached the 1A Western regional semifinals, falling to Avery County 40-39.
North Wilkes and West Wilkes finished with identical 9-5 conference records. Wilkes Central was right around .500, but finished second in the league two seasons ago. Elkin struggled last season, a year after winning the conference. Ashe County won the league title in 2011-12.
Davis said the text and Facebook messages he’s received since he accepted the new position have been overwhelming.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Davis said. “We have to instill confidence in these kids. East Wilkes believes in me, and they have the faith in me to give me an opportunity. I am grateful and excited.”