LEES CREEK — After 16 seasons as an assistant coach, Jeff Craycraft has finally landed a varsity head coaching position. He was hired Tuesday as the varsity girls basketball coach at East Clinton High School.
“I’m excited,” said Craycraft, a 1976 graduate of Greeneview High School. “I am very, very happy and very, very humbled to accept this position.”
East Clinton athletic director Jim Marsh said 12 applied for the job and six were interviewed. Craycraft was among four who were called back for a second interview.
“Top to bottom, he has experience,” Marsh said. “What my community is looking for is someone who can direct all levels of basketball here at East Clinton. Jeff has directed basketball at all levels. He is going to have to be active in youth basketball. He has high credentials.”
Craycraft said he expects to work with the youth basketball coaches and players at East Clinton. He is going to start a mentoring program where varsity players work with the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade players. He plans to invite youth coaches to the varsity practices “so they can incorporate what we do into the lower levels.”
Said Craycraft, “I think it’s going to be a good situation to start addressing the total program. I didn’t take this job to just be a varsity basketball coach. I took this job to assist individuals down the line to help this program in the future.
“I knew that (as head coach) you are not only responsible for the varsity but also all the way down to the pee wee programs. I’m just one person but we’ll work on having a common direction for the entire program.”
Craycraft has coached at Wilmington, Clinton-Massie and East Clinton. The past two years he has been an assistant to head coach Steven Gerber, who resigned following the 2016-17 season.
“I have coached under some very good coaches … Bennie Carroll, Jeff Stephenson, Butch Hooper, Michael Noszka, Allen Wilkinson,” said Craycraft. “You are talking about some of the best coaches around. They let us coach. We weren’t there to assist, we coached. We could do the things needed to make winning programs.”
Craycraft said his philosophy on the court will be simple.
“We’re going to play defense and we’re going to be a pressure team,” he said. “We are going to try to convert that into some easy offense. We want to try to push the ball. If it’s not there, we’ll run our motion offense. We’re small; we don’t have a lot of big people. We’ll need to take advantage of our strengths. We’ll be disciplined.
“On phase of the game I really want to win is the transition game. I don’t want to be beat back on defense in transition and I want to beat the other team in transition on offense.”