W.S. Neal hires former ECHS coach

Published 11:19 am Monday, June 24, 2013

Buddy Powell, left, and Anthony Hayes were named new basketball coaches at W.S. Neal High School in East Brewton. Hayes, the new head coach, led ECHS to the state Final Four in 2012.

Buddy Powell, left, and Anthony Hayes were named new basketball coaches at W.S. Neal High School in East Brewton. Hayes, the new head coach, led ECHS to the state Final Four in 2012.

On the job Friday morning after being approved by the County Board of Education Thursday, new W.S. Neal basketball coaches Anthony Hayes and Buddy Powell had already clicked.

The two arrived early Friday morning to get things going and met each other and already started making plans for their upcoming first season at the school in East Brewton.

Hayes, although new at W.S. Neal, is not new to the area. The 33-year-old most recently coached at Escambia County High School in Atmore.

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“I am originally from Century so I am familiar with the area,” Hayes said. “I have ties to the Brewton area with a brother on the law enforcement force here. I am married and have three kids and I just love to coach basketball. My first year out of college I was at Straughn High School and then I had six years in at Escambia County High School and also had a coaching stint at Lee High School. Now, I am a Neal Eagle.”

Hayes said the direction of the program and where they are headed attracted him to W.S. Neal.

“We have a new athletic director and some new coaches in,” Hayes said. “When you sit down and talk with them, everything is genuine and to the point. It is for the kids and they want Neal to be great. I want to be part of that greatness also.”

Hayes said there are several things he hopes to accomplish at W.S. Neal.

“First off, the main thing is to get these kids ready for life and not just basketball,” he said. “We need them to contribute to society off the floor. If we can do that, the job on the floor is going to be the easy part. I like to be up-tempo and to press and get easy buckets. We have to learn the fundamentals. We may not be able to do all those things, but fundamentals are a must. It is a must for us here. I am just excited to be here. People may say it is a challenge, but for me it is just another opportunity. We are going to work everyday. I can’t say that we are going to win them all, but we are going to put a product on the floor that the school and the community and everybody can be proud of.”

Hayes said he wanted to thank the school board, the superintendent, the administration at Neal and coach Hoehn for the opportunity.

“Not the opportunity to just coach, but to help young men and women,” he said. “We are excited. We are both glad to be here and want to be here for a long time. Go Eagles.”

Hoehn said he thinks Hayes and Powell will both lead W.S. Neal basketball into the right direction.

“(Former W.S. Neal basketball) coach (Kason) Whitten took a job in Chicago and we wish him well,” Hoehn said. “Whenever you get a chance to hire a coach, you are always looking to upgrade. It does not matter how well the last coach did for you, as athletic director, I am looking to upgrade every program in the school. We want to win at everything. That includes every single sport, guys and girls. I wanted to separate the boys coach from the girls coach and just have one coach for each.”

Hoehn said he had a lot of strong applicants for this job.

“As far as coach Hayes, I want someone with our boys because most of his players are football players too,” he said. “When I talked to him and looked at his record, he has a high overall winning record broken down in region games, non-region games, playoff games, home games and away games. I also wanted someone with championship experience and he took Escambia County to the Final Four and the Sweet 16.”