New E.E. Smith High School boys basketball coach Dontrell Snow has no trouble understanding the history of Golden Bull basketball. For the past few years, he’s worked with a man who lived it.
Snow, a 2005 graduate of Jack Britt and 2010 graduate of the University of Mount Olive, has both played and coached basketball with Ike Walker Jr., son of longtime E.E. Smith boys coach Ike Walker.
No one has to tell Snow how important tradition is at Smith and how crucial it is to expose today’s players to living examples of that rich history.
“A lot of guys have reached out, and I’ve reached out to a lot of guys,’’ he said, referring to former players from the Smith athletic program.
But returning the Golden Bulls to their former glory days will involve more than just reuniting today’s players with former stars.
Snow said that’s where he learned another valuable lesson working as an assistant coach with Walker for the past five years while he was serving as a health and physical education teacher at Reid Ross Classical.
Prior to joining the faculty at Reid Ross, he taught at South View Middle and Lake Rim Elementary. He’s been assisting with the basketball program at Jack Britt since 2012.
“Being around Coach Walker, we don’t necessarily have one emphasis,’’ he said, referring to specific offensive and defensive philosophies. “It’s basically based off the talent we have that year. One year we might be picking up full court and pressing. The next year the talent might change where we’re taller and bigger and have to go zone.’’
Regardless of the personnel he has available, Snow said he will lean toward being defensive-minded and high energy with a lot of communication taking place.
“You’ve always got to have something in your bag to change up,’’ he said. “It will change as players develop.’’
One thing that has changed a lot in Cumberland County basketball in recent years is the migration of players from public school to private school ranks.
Snow thinks a big reason for that is coaches heavily involved in Amateur Athletic Union basketball have taken roles on the staff at some of the private schools, and the result has been the funneling of some of their AAU players to private school teams.
“I know a lot of college coaches, so I know how the business works,’’ Snow said. “My biggest thing is about building relationships with kids in the community, not just at E.E. Smith but all over. Once you build a relationship with the kids, they are going to play with who they have a good relationship with.
“I adapt to any situation. If that’s the climate we’re in, then that’s what we’re in. If you build a relationship with the kids, it’s not going to matter.’’
Snow will complete the school year on the faculty at Reid Ross but will join the faculty at E.E. Smith in the fall heading the in-school suspension program.
He’s already scheduled a team meeting and plans to begin offseason workouts with his new players by the end of March.
Photo: E.E. Smith boys basketball coach Dontrell Snow