Brent Hall didn’t apply for the boys’ basketball opening. But when he was approached last week about the position, he didn’t hesitate with his answer.
“I told them I’d do it to help the school out and the kids,” Hall said.
Hall officially became Houston’s new varsity boys’ basketball coach Monday night when he was hired by the school board to replace Wayne Jessen, who after one year with the Tigers left for the same position at Van Buren.
Hall, who has coached the baseball team his 10 years at Houston, accepted the job on an interim basis with the understanding that his primary focus would continue to be baseball.
“I’m a baseball coach first. That’s my passion,” Hall said. “But I’m not going to sell the kids short on the basketball court. I’ll put my all into this. We’ll practice and work hard, scout and do what is needed.”
Hall cautioned that no one be fooled by the interim tag.
“It may be an interim basis, but I’m going to put my heart and soul into it,” he said. “I can’t do anything without giving it everything I’ve got.”
Hall, a 1992 Houston graduate, has coached basketball his entire tenure with the school. He was an assistant varsity coach Charlie Malam’s final year and worked two years under Aaron Griffin, who coached the Tigers before Jessen arrived. He’s also coached the middle school team seven years.
While Hall admitted coaching baseball comes more naturally to him, he is comfortable on the sidelines. He told the search committee there are specific aspects he believes he can improve the team.
“I told them I think I can get kids out for the program. I think we can get more kids than they’ve had,” Hall said. “I told them the kids wouldn’t act like jerks, and I think I can make it a smooth transition.”
Hall inherits a team that took several steps in the right direction under Jessen. The Tigers went 11-14 after going a combined 14-35 in two seasons under Griffin.
Houston lost three senior starters to graduation, highlighted by guard Michael Buckner, who led the team in nearly every offensive category.
The Tigers haven’t won a conference title since 1989. The last district championship came in 1984.
“I don’t expect SCA and district championships. I’m going to be realistic with it,” Hall said. “They may not always be the best basketball players out there, but you can get a long way on heart, hard work and determination. That’s what I’ll expect.”
Hall said he will evaluate his situation with the basketball and baseball teams after the season. There’s a chance he may shed the interim label and remain head basketball coach.
“Number one is if I’ll be able to put the time into my baseball program,” he said. “If I see the kids giving it their all, believing in me and making strides toward getting this program back on its feet, that’s something I’ll look at as far as keeping the program.”