PG South: Steel Valley grad gets Jeannette job
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Nearly a quarter-century ago, Adrian Batts played in his first WPIAL basketball playoff game, and it was against Jeannette.
Now, Batts, 41, will be a head coach of a high school basketball team for the first time. And it will be for Jeannette.
Batts, a 1986 Steel Valley graduate who was an assistant at Jeannette the past three seasons, was hired as the Jayhawks' head coach last week. He replaces Jim Nesser, who resigned to become the coach at Hempfield.
"I'm ecstatic. This is the place I really wanted to be," said Batts, a former point guard who played at Edinboro University. "When I found out that coach Nesser was leaving, I was hoping that the school board would make a decision and keep me, and that's what they did."
Batts, whose day job is with Coca-Cola in Greensburg, has made Jeannette his home. He joined the Jayhawks' staff when Nesser took the team over in 2006 and was with the team when it won the WPIAL and PIAA Class AA titles in 2008.
Batts also has served as assistant coach at Franklin Regional and West Mifflin high schools and in college at Pitt-Johnstown.
"Without a doubt, he's a great choice," Jeanette athletic director Bob Murphy said. "He's been an assistant and he was there for our run at the state championship and winning it, so I'm sure he will do a great job."
It's clear in talking to Batts that his time at Jeannette has been perhaps his most exciting coaching stop over the years. Jeannette played in the WPIAL title game each of the past three seasons and went 72-14 in that span.
"What I've seen the past three years with the following from the community and the way the kids approach the game, it's just unbelievable how the community gets behind the athletic and sports programs at Jeannette," Batts said. "I'm so happy I'm a part of it, and I'm going to do my best to keep the tradition going."
Of course, much of the winning over the past three seasons can be at least partially attributed to Terrelle Pryor and Jordan Hall, both of whom are playing football at Ohio State -- and those were the two most high-profile of the many talented players who have graduated from Jeannette the last two years.
Only one starter, junior guard Darius Brown, returns from last season, and there were only five underclassmen so much as listed on the varsity roster last season.
Among players who did not graduate this spring, only Brown, senior guard Toddy Harris and senior forward Brian Weightman scored double figures in a game at least once -- and it was only a handful of times it happened combined.
"We certainly have to reload, so to speak, but we've always had some great kids," Murphy said. "Obviously ... we've had some very big losses. But we will be OK."
First Published August 13, 2009 12:00 am