This has been an interesting year for boys high school basketball in Sumter School District. Each of the schools is under the direction of a first-year coach.
Well, Lakewood's Ed Scott is a legitimate first-year head coach. Crestwood's Aric …
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Well, Lakewood's Ed Scott is a legitimate first-year head coach. Crestwood's Aric Samuel and Sumter's Bryan Brown have a few years under their belts, but it's their first go-around at their respective schools.
That doesn't mean they don't have any history together though. Scott and Brown were high school teammates, and Brown and Samuel have coached against one another. Scott and Samuel knew of each other, and they will get to coach against one another for the first time on Tuesday when the Knights host Lakewood in The Castle.
"All three of us have a big job to do," Brown said at a meeting of the Sumter-Palmetto Rotary Club in December where all three spoke. "There is a lot of development to do, but we're all ones who are pretty good at doing it."
Brown is a familiar face around these parts because he was at Lakewood for nine years, the final five as head coach, before getting the Sumter job when it came open.
That opened the door for Scott, who was the starting point guard as a freshman for Lower Richland High when Brown was a senior, to come to Lakewood.
"I just know how he (Scott) has excelled, and I'm really proud of him," Brown said.
Scott, who went on to become a first team All-Atlantic Coast Conference performer at Clemson, likes where he is now.
"I'm walking into a very good program," Scott said. "Bryan Brown left a very good program.
"I'm trying to teach a lot of life skills beyond basketball. I'm trying to make sure the kids get involved in the community as well."
Samuel has the fuller resume of the three, having led Hunter-Kinard-Tyler to the 1A state title in 2005 and his alma mater, Hartsville, to consecutive 3A titles in 2012-13.
"I'm happy to be in Sumter," Samuel said. "In Hartsville, it wasn't easy trying to beat Crestwood. Sumter's always had a great brand of basketball."
"I just remember Hartsville beat us really, really bad," Brown said with a laugh.
The seasons haven't been easy ones for any of the schools so far before Friday's games. Sumter was 10-9 overall, but 0-2 in Region IV-5A. Lakewood was 5-10 overall and 1-2 in Region IV-4A, while Crestwood was 8-11 and 1-2.
While all three of the coaches have different styles, approaches and philosophies to their jobs, they all agree that trying to connect with their players is one of the more difficult things to do.
"I've been doing this for 23 years, and I have a little saying: 'Your hard ain't my hard,' " Samuel said about trying to push his players in the full-court pressure defense he employs. "They think they're playing hard, and when you tell them they're not playing as hard as they can, they think you're putting them down.
"Kids have a lot of things to keep them occupied today other than basketball, the technology world for one. I struggle with the work ethic part. They don't want any part of that."
Scott's desire is to relay information to his players that will help them develop.
"I really love working with kids, first and foremost," he said. "I think with kids it's important to challenge them and keep them engaged. They have so many more opportunities to do other things, so I want to have something for them to do, pushing in the right direction. "They all want to know the reason why. You have to talk to them and explain why you're doing what you're asking them to do and how it's going to help them down the line. It's all about building those relationships, getting them to trust you, how by being a part of a team everybody can achieve more."
Brown knows things have changed in how to approach kids in his time as a coach.
"We're In a generation now where kids don't respond in the same way," said Brown, who was 73-53 in his five seasons as Lakewood's head coach. "I think they're going to figure it out how we figured it out. We just need to embrace them as much as we can and try to help them with character responses.
"It's definitely a challenge as coaches, but we do it because we love it."
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