To fill its basketball coaching vacancy, Oneida High School looked to its past.
The school announced Monday that Jacob King will be its new men’s basketball head coach. King, 38, will be serving his second stint as the Indians’ head coach, and will replace Zach Smith, who departed the program last month.
Dr. Jeanny Hatfield, Oneida Special School District’s director of schools, made the announcement on Monday. She picked King from a field of three finalists forwarded to her by a committee that interviewed six candidates. The other finalists were current Oneida Middle School head coach Shawn West and former Huntsville Middle and Scott High women’s basketball coach Chad Marcum.
King is an Oneida alumnus, and played for the Indians in the mid 1990s. He graduated in 1997. He began his high school coaching career as an assistant on Bill Hall’s staff at Scott High, and later served as head coach at Oneida, where he succeeded Kevin Windle in 2005. He coached the Indians’ program for three seasons before resigning in 2008, when he was replaced by Rusty Yaden.
Oneida struggled during the regular season from 2006 to 2008, having graduated a large number of seniors after the 2004 and 2005 seasons, but advanced to the regionals in each of those seasons after finishing third place in the District 4-A tournament each season.
In a written release Monday morning, Hatfield said King was selected because he met the criteria that had been set forth for the position.
"I was looking for a coach that would be a mentor to our students, had good character, and who valued our students above all else," Hatfield said. "The right candidate also had to meet the expectations and goals I had put in place for the program.
"After Coach King's interview with the panel and a second interview with the director, I believe he has the humility, motivation and coaching skills to mentor our young men and bring championship basketball back to Oneida."
King will serve in a non-faculty position. He is employed by his father's company, Danny King Lumber.
Speaking by telephone Monday morning, Hatfield said she had made her decision on Friday, and had made a courtesy call to each of the other finalists to "let them know that we've decided to go in a different direction."
Besides the three finalists, others interviewed for the position included former Oneida player and current Bryan College graduate assistant Jake Wright, former Kentucky high school coach Steven Jaco and former Grundy County coach Jerry Brown.
The panel tasked with narrowing the list of candidates included Oneida High School principal Kevin Byrd and athletics director Jimmy May, along with OHS women's basketball coach Marv West. Others on the panel were former college player Derek Keeton, former Oneida and University of Tennessee standout Brynae Laxton Miley, and Roane County athletics director Tony Clower.