Ex-Harrison player Hart excited by D1 coaching opportunity
Story originally published to www.courierpress.com (Evansville Courier & Press), reposted with permission
By Gordon Engelhardt
Published: Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011
While some assistant men's basketball coaches have to toil in relative obscurity for years before moving up the ladder to NCAA Division I, it took Kente' Hart just one season.
After serving as an assistant at Vincennes University in 2009-10 under fellow Harrison High School graduate David Ragland, Hart was out of coaching for a year before joining the staff at University of South Carolina Upstate, a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, for this season. Ragland left VU to become an assistant at Indiana State, which led Hart to take a job teaching physical education at C.E. King High School in Houston.
But Hart wasn't out of coaching for long.
Current USC Upstate assistant Kyle Perry has known Hart for years. As an associate head coach at NCAA Division II Carson-Newman, Perry recruited Hart out of Shawnee Community College in Ullin, Ill., to join the Eagles.
"We pretty much stayed in touch after I graduated and stopped playing ball," said Hart, who helped lift Harrison to a Class 4A semistate berth as a senior in 2003. "He left after my junior year (at Carson-Newman), but I thought it was interesting and neat that he stayed in touch."
From Ragland, Hart said he learned coaching etiquette.
"There's a lot of stuff, from breaking down film to learning how to interact with the guys," Hart said.
Although his main role at VU was recruiting, Hart also dealt with weightlifting and conditioning. At USC Upstate, recruiting is one of his main roles along with breaking down film and scouting. One of the biggest differences from the junior college ranks to Division I is learning all the rules in Division I, such as when a player can be contacted and when he cannot.
"The facilities are a big difference and how polished the players are already," Hart said. "This has always been a dream of mine to be at this level. I've talked to a lot of guys and it's not easy to get into the Division I ranks. Coaching one year and jumping to Division I, that's awesome."
At Harrison, Hart learned a lot from coach Will Wyman, whom he has known since he was 7 years old. Kenneth Hart, who is the father of Kente', served as Wyman's assistant from 1990 to '92.
"I liked the way (Wyman) was always calm and never showed any type of fear or nervousness," Hart said. "It seemed like he was always in control and knew what was going on. He grew up in a coaching household with his dad (the late Orlando "Gunner" Wyman). That was always a part of him, his calmness, his patience. He was a very great teacher. I learned a lot as far as the fundamentals of the game, doing stuff the right way."
Hart felt an immediate rapport with coach Perry, because they were both point guards.
"Being a point guard, you have to know all the positions," Hart said. "You're pretty much a coach on the court. He saw that in me and that I would be a good coach someday."