Laurens, SC – April 14, 2017 – As a result of Coach Ben Sinclair’s resignation earlier this year, Laurens District High School (LDHS) has been searching for a new coach for their boys’ basketball program for the 2017-2018 school year and beyond. There has been a great deal of interest in the position with fifteen people originally applying for the opportunity. Nine of those applicants were selected for an initial interview. Now the field has been narrowed to four.
Michael Fitzgerald Morrison is the first of the four finalists. Coach Morrison is currently an assistant coach at Eastside High School in the Greenville County school system; but, he has a very broad base of experience as both a player and a coach. Coach Morrison was a college standout at Loyola University in Maryland and he became the school’s first and only Division 1-era player to be drafted by an NBA Team. Morrison played basketball for the Phoenix Suns and had brief stints with the Washington Bullets and the Orlando Magic before beginning a career in international basketball circles. Since leaving professional basketball, Morrison has consistently worked with Nike Elite Youth Basketball programs and been involved in interscholastic basketball in a variety of settings (including Gray Court-Owings and LDHS). Morrison was inducted into the MAAC and Loyola University Athletic Halls of Fame in 2013 and 2014, respectively. From a coaching perspective, Morrison believes in creating an environment that promotes inclusion, family, accountability, learning, excellence, understanding, and purpose.
The second finalist is Ryan Walker. Coach Walker is currently an assistant coach at Dorman High School (2017 AAAAA State Champions). He has a B.A. in Biological Sciences with a minor in Sports Management and an M.S. in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. Walker has experience as a college Division I and Division II player and coach, head coaching experience at the middle school level and assistant coaching experience at the varsity level with a highly successful program. Walker understands that academics are the first priority for student-athletes; but, in athletics he believes in accountability and uses discipline, respect, attitude, and effort as the four pillars of his program for student-athletes.
The third finalist is Charles Wimphrie. Coach Wimphrie is currently the Head Coach at Southern Wesleyan University (SWU), where he has served in that capacity since 1993. Wimphrie is a native of Laurens, SC who played basketball for Laurens District High School where he averaged 20 points and 15.5 rebounds per game. Wimphrie played college basketball at The Citadel (under legendary Coach Les Robinson); but, later transferred to SWU where he still holds the single season scoring record of 781 points. In 1981 he averaged 27.5 points per game (5th highest average in the country) for the Warriors. Wimphrie is one of the top 20 winningest coaches in NAIA history and played an integral role in SWU’s move from the NAIA to the NCAA. Coach Wimphrie credits his experience in Laurens as the catalyst for his success in life and sees this as the perfect opportunity to transition from the hectic life of a college coach to the more community and student-athlete centered life of a high school coach. Wimphrie truly wants to give back to the community that gave him so much.
Last, but not least, among the finalists is Ricky “Rico” Salliewhite. Coach Salliewhite is currently the Head Coach at McCormick High School in McCormick, SC, where he has been since July 2013. In his tenure at McCormick his team made playoff appearances in 3 of his 4 years and Salliewhite was named the 2017 Region 1-1A Coach of the Year. Salliewhite also has close ties to Laurens where he served as the Head JV and Assistant Varsity Basketball Coach from 2010 – 2013. Salliewhite began his coaching career as the Head Varsity Basketball Coach at Thornwell High School from 2002 – 2007 and Assistant Basketball Coach at Mauldin High School from 2007 – 2010. Salliewhite believes an emotional connection to his players is essential and he is very involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Second interviews with the four finalists will be conducted the week of April 17 – 21, 2017. LDHS hopes to be able to complete the selection process by the first week in May 2017.