Andy Webb, a top assistant basketball coach at Science Hill High School in Johnson City, has been conducting his own “very selective” job search for a couple of years now. Any prospective position would have to be really strong to lure him away from Upper East Tennessee.
“Science Hill is such a great basketball program and I’ve had a lot of freedom here,” Webb said Thursday afternoon in a telephone interview, “so I just always decided to stay.”
Well, he stayed until looking seriously at East Hamilton High School.
Webb applied for the job to replace veteran Frank Jones, who coached the Hurricanes for one year before resigning last spring, just after the 2018-19 school year ended.
There were three interviews and the process was thorough from both sides.
“I had some terrific opportunities but none stacked up to East Hamilton,” said Webb, who played basketball and tennis – “mostly basketball” – at Rhea County High School and Maryville College. “The administration team of Brent Eller (principal), Keitha Booker (athletic director) and Matthew Thurman (assistant principal) was extremely impressive. I also got to meet some of the players during the interview process and they were impressive as well.”
So, on Thursday, Eller announced that Webb, who turned 37 two days ago, had accepted the job as the Hurricanes’ new boys’ basketball coach.
“Coach Webb comes to us with years of experience as a player and coach many levels,” Eller said. “His energy and expertise will contribute greatly towards advancing the successes of our boys’ basketball program. We are very excited about the future of East Hamilton basketball.”
Webb and his wife, Nicole, who will be teaching at Ooltewah Elementary, have two children: 3-year-old son Archie, and 6-month-old daughter Lottie, and plan on making the move to Chattanooga on July 20. They are just finishing the basement of their home in Johnson City and plan to rent an apartment in Collegedale until they can sell their current home.
“Our heads are spinning right now to be honest,” Webb said. “The timing might not be great but we’re extremely excited to get down there. Johnson City is like a small town and I’d say Chattanooga is more like a small city. We’re really excited about the area and I’m looking forward to Frank Jones maybe being around when he can be.
“East Hamilton has such a great community and we look forward to continuing to build on this program’s successes.”
In the past three seasons, the Canes have gone 72-39 and that included their first state tournament appearance.
Jones directed the Canes to a 22-10 record last season, losing to District 5-3A rival Cleveland in the district and region tournament championship games and dropping a tough 61-59 decision to Oakland in the sectional.
In 2017-18, they finished 25-8, claimed a Region 3-3A tournament title and were upended by Riverdale in the sectional.
In 2016-17, East Hamilton was 25-11 with another region tournament championship, knocked off Blackman in the sectional and lost to champion Memphis East in the state quarterfinals.
Webb served as the Hilltoppers’ top assistant coach from 2011 to 2019 and Science Hill went 191-53 in that time frame with four Big 8 Conference regular-season titles, four District 1-3A tournament titles and six Region 1-3A tournament championships in that time frame. The Hilltoppers also qualified for six sectionals and appeared in two state tournaments, reaching the semifinals in 2012.
“We had a lot of success with smaller teams,” said, who was the Hilltoppers’ head freshman and junior varsity coach from 2012-14. “Science Hill is a guard-oriented program and we always tried to push the pace and got to the 2012 final four when we played Memphis East. We want to push the tempo, play a lot of kids, score some points and force the issue on defense. We’ll get the ball and go.”
Athletic director, Keitha Booker, who enjoyed some coaching success at Tyner before joining the East Hamilton administration, said he was pleased the Canes got the coach they wanted.
“I am proud of the effort put into this coaching search,” he said. “When we started the process, we were not only looking for "a coach" but "THE COACH" to take this program to the next level. Our administrative team spent a considerable amount of time with this process and did a tremendous job of narrowing down to our top candidates for the job. We are very confident that coach Webb has the skills and disposition to lead our students both on and off the court. We look forward to a very exciting year this year and years to come.”
(Contact Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @larryfleming44)