By TIM TUTOR
After just one year as Matt Waldrop’s assistant in girls’ and boys’ basketball at South Pontotoc High, 26-year-old Chris Vandiver is stepping up to lead the boys’ program next season.
“I’m excited about it,” said the 2004 University of Mississippi graduate. “I’ve always wanted to be a head basketball coach, and I’m really pleased that it has come this quickly.”
“Chris has a real good reputation here and did a great job of helping Coach Waldrop this past season,” said South Pontotoc High principal Kenny Roberts of why he recommended Vandiver to the Pontotoc County School Board.
Coach Waldrop had informed the administration that he wanted to concentrate only on the Lady Cougars next season, so Roberts asked if there was someone he would recommend as the boys’ coach.
“Matt recommended Chris to me, and that meant a lot.”
Then after a sit-down with Coach Vandiver, Roberts was pleased with what he heard. “I liked what he said about the boys’ basketball program, what he wants to do with it to further what Matt had accomplished, so I offered him the job. I think he will be a good fit for us here at South Pontotoc.”
Coach Vandiver was apporved by the board on Monday, May 16.
Vandiver was born in Corinth but has lived in Pontotoc ever since. Becoming the new boys’ basketball coach at SP is especially sweet to the 1999 South grad, who played under Coach David Baldwyn for three years.
“I’m excited to be back at South and the opportunity to work with the kids and people here.”
Coach Vandiver is thankful for his one year stint as Waldrop’s assistant. “From the coaching stand point and the behind-the-scenes thing, I learned a lot from it. I appreciate Matt helping me out.”
Vandiver was also the junior varsity boys’ coach last season.
The coach had not yet met with his team at the time of this interview but felt he knows the kids’ abilities well enough to talk about their approach to the game next season.
“We’ll run a motion, continuous offense, and on defense we will mix it up.”
The lack of depth on any team will limit how a coach is able to use his defense, according to Vandiver. “I’d like to play as much man defense as we can, but there will be times when we just can’t. We’ll have some zones to go to and a lot of different stuff.”
The Cougars will have all their starters back next year, and the coach is looking for a little help from the bench.
“We need about three guys to step up. We need eight that can play if we’re going to play man.”
Coach Vandiver will also use his degree in Secondary Mathematics Education to teach five math classes at South Pontotoc next year.