HUNTSVILLE — Jackson Sharp has resigned as girls basketball coach at Scott High after 12 seasons.
Sharp — the son of the late Doug Sharp, the Lady Highlanders’ all-time winningest head coach, and Linda Sharp, a current member of the Scott County Board of Education, and the sister of Delania Sharp Wray, a former standout player for the Lady Highlanders — had been the program’s head coach since 2008.
A driver’s education teacher at Scott High who coached at Huntsville Middle before making the move to the high school ranks, Sharp informed school administrators of his decision on Friday.
The Lady Highlanders are coming off a 12-19 season and a regional quarterfinal finish. Their season ended with a loss at Northview Academy. The season saw Sharp record his 150th win against Oakdale in February.
Sharp finishes with 154 career wins — second only to his father, who guided the Lady Highlanders to the 1993 district championship and later retired with 176 victories. The elder Sharp was an assistant on his son’s staff for several years before a battle with cancer. He died in March 2014, at the age of 68.
Sharp inherited a program that was coming off a 4-23 season and had not advanced beyond the district tournament in six years. His first team, in 2009-2010, went 14-15, then put together back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since the Doug Sharp tenure in the 1990s, going 14-12 in 2010 and 18-12 in 2011, which would turn out to be the most wins in a single season for Sharp.
The 2009-2010 team was the first Scott High team since 2002 to advance to the regionals, snapping a streak of seven seasons. The Lady Highlanders returned to the regionals in 2011.
After a pair of rebuilding seasons, the Lady Highlanders were back above .500 in 2014, finishing 15-14. That season began a stretch that saw Scott High advance to the regionals six times in seven seasons.
Overall, Sharp — whose quiet demeanor was matched with an unfailingly optimistic approach — had a record of 154-192 and his teams advanced to the region tournament eight times, including six of his final seven seasons.
Scott High athletics director Eric Henry told the Independent Herald Friday that the vacancy will be listed on the TSSAA’s jobs board, as well as posted on the school system’s website and advertised through traditional channels.
Time is of the essence; if summer basketball is permitted, it begins in less than one month. For now, that may be a moot point; by executive order of Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, sports venues remain closed due to coronavirus concerns. That does not mean, however, that practices cannot be held according to the traditional TSSAA calendar, beginning with the end of the school year and continuing through the start of the state-mandated dead period on June 22.
Several names are likely to be tossed about as potential successors to Sharp; in fact, names have been tossed about since rumors began circulating months ago that Sharp might resign. Among those names, from inside the system, are likely to be Scott High alumnus and Central Office employee Brent Shoemaker, currently the head coach of the Huntsville Middle School girls basketball program; Chad Marcum, a Huntsville Middle School teacher and former girls head coach at both Scott High and Huntsville Middle; and Morgan Boyatt, a former player for coach Fred Snow at Oakdale who served as an assistant on Sharp’s staff for several seasons. From outside the system, a name likely to be mentioned is Rusty Yaden, one of the most notable names in Scott High basketball history as a player, though he has never coached at the school. Yaden is a former girls coach at Fairview Middle, and coached the Oneida boys team to a substate appearance. He is currently the head girls coach at Sunbright.
It should be noted that those are merely names that have been discussed within the community; none have publicly expressed an interest in the job or said that they aren’t content in their current roles.
Scott High’s next head coach will inherit a team that returns three starters, although the Lady Highlanders are losing Lyndsey Summers and Tara Sellers to graduation. Both were primarily post players, though Summers became more of an outside player in her senior season, which saw her play her way into an offer from Cleveland State Community College, where Scott County native Jake Wright is an assistant.
Among returning players with key varsity experience will be senior guards Callie Carson and Julia Butts, senior post Kenzie Smith and junior post Alaina Duncan.
Although it has traditionally been the elephant in the room, whispered about but not spoken of openly, among the challenges for Scott High’s next coach will be to keep players from county middle schools within the system. Most of the upcoming talent from 8th grade is from Shoemaker’s 8th grade-heavy district championship team at Huntsville.