By Ozie Davis III MS, JD
Herald Sports Editor
There’s an inescapable joy felt when roaming from gym to gym watching Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference (CMAC) boys basketball coaches prepare their young men for battle, and it’s that the battle is won on and off the court.
Far too often, CMAC basketball and its coaches are undervalued. They don’t get the respect they deserve for their Basketball prowess and rarely are the pains of inner city living calculated into the product that is reaching the floor. Yet when it comes to the end of March in Division II on down, the CMAC is always in the mix. And to a tee, each of the head coaches care more about their young men’s lives than they do about their hooping ability.
I wasn’t able to get to all the schools, but here’s a thumbnail’s look at CMAC head coaches and their staff’s.
Starting with Taft’s Demarco Bradley. Coach Bradley is back in the captain’s seat for the Senators this season. He has been at Taft for 18 years and has amassed a record of 116 and 39 in his six years as head coach. He has the unique distinction as the only person that has been a part of both the Taft and Woodward State championships, which are the only state championship trophies in the leagues history.
Bradley is supported by a talented group of dynamic experienced young coaches. These coaches include former Taft star John Stone, Aiken and Kent State alum Darren Goodson, Ward Banks, Kevin Mitchell, Dondi Britten, and Melvin Steele. These coaches play a significant role in the development of Taft players on and off the court and, along with Coach Bradley, are looking to take these Senators back up 71N.
Out at Aiken High School’s Ty Cass is entering his fifth year as head coach. Coach Cass has 13 years coaching experience. He is married with eight children. He credits learning life through basketball and is trying to pass that along as a coach.
Coach Cass’s staff is led by head varsity assistant Greg Tye. Cass says, “Greg is the glue that holds our program together. Without him Aiken basketball wouldn’t be what it is.” Coach Tye has over 20 years of coaching experience at all levels.
Will Johnson is Aiken’s varsity assistant. He’s an ex-head coach with 10 years of coaching experience.
Leslie Burns is another varsity assistant. He is a former D1 player at UD and has five years of coaching experience.
Rounding out Aiken’s staff is Jr. Allen, Jerry Thomas, and Brady Metz. Jr Allen is the junior varsity head coach; Jerry Thomas the head freshmen coach; and Brady Metz the head Junior High coach.
I had the pleasure of coaching Ty Cass as a high school player with the Queen City Prophets. At Woodward, head coach Jarelle Redden and his top assistant Paul McMillan III are also Prophet alumni. It’s a blessing to see these brothers instilling values into our youth through basketball.
Coach Jarelle Redden is coming into his fourth year as the head coach at Woodward. He is a former CPS grad and NCAA division 1 signee (Ball State)! He uses his past experience and ability to understand his student’s environment’s to lead his Bulldog group.
Paul McMillan III leads the Woodward assistants. He is a former head coach and father of Paul McMillan IV (top ten point guard in country). Coach Paul, as he is affectionately called, assists on all levels in the program, and along with Coach Redden stresses individual development on and off the court!
Alison McCathey (NKU grad and former head coach) is a Northern Kentucky Hall of Fame inductee and brings electricity to the staff. I love hearing her work at practice. Leonardo Acoff has been with the program for four years and is a very loyal assistant. Then there is my frat brother, the infamous Dr. Eric Abercrumbie, former Director of University of Cincinnati Office of Student Affairs, and a top figure in the university’s African American community. Rounding out the Bulldog staff is first year JV coach William Green, Middle School and freshman coach Kindle Richardson, and Nathan Ware, Middle School coach.
Over at Western Hills, Bryce Stokes is running the show, Coach Stokes is a native of Detroit, having moved to Ohio in 2006 to attend Central State University, where he met his wife Shaunte Stokes (who is also the cheer coach at West High). Coach Stokes’ first high school coaching job was in 2014 at Lockland High School as a varsity assistant and JV head coach. In April 2019, he became West High’s Varsity head coach; Last year was their first winning season since 2010. Coach Stokes is counting on his staff to keep the Mustangs winning ways going.
Varsity assistant: Rodrick Mcfairland
JV Head Coach: Dr. Craig Hanthorn
Freshman head coach: Tyler Smothers
These next four schools all have new head coaches, but they all have a great deal of experience.
Withrow’s Berdo Allen is a former Taft superstar that went on to junior college at Cincinnati State (where he began his coaching career as a student-coach) before playing College ball at Ohio Dominican. He started his CMAC experience as the head junior high coach at Hughes High where he also coached on the Varsity staff! After Coach Allen’s 4-year stint at Hughes, he went on to become the head coach at Gamble Montessori. While at Gamble Coach Allen’s teams compiled the following:
1. 100% senior graduation
2. Back-to-back CMAC Blue Championships
3. Four Coaching of the Year Awards
4. Three-year winning streak against CMAC Blue opponents
Coach Allen’s staff is one of the best in the business.
Ronald Harris. associate head coach, is entering his third year with coach Allen’s Staff. Coach Harris has a ton of experience where he was the head women’s basketball coach at both Cincinnati State and Miami Middletown where his teams won championships.
Jerone Behanan, head junior varsity coach, is entering his sixth year with Coach Allen and is instrumental in the growth and development of players.
Brandon Miller is the head freshman coach and is also entering his sixth year with Coach Allen.
Coach Elmo Graham is the head junior high coach is and is responsible for guard skill development as a varsity assistant.
Harold Howard is entering his first year with Coach Allen. Those of us in the basketball community are excited about this. Coach Howard brings an intensity, focus and perspective to assisting with our youth that will only deepen the Withrow staff,
Michael “Bruiser” Holmes is now charged with continuing success at Gamble Montessori.
Coach Holmes has been coaching youth and high school basketball sports for eight years. He likes to think of himself as a “player’s coach.” He utilizes his collegiate and professional playing experience (Benedict College and professionally in Seoul, Korea) to his benefit. He’s had stints as the head freshman coach and varsity assistant at Western Hills before being the varsity head coach with the Lady Mustangs. He’s also coached as a varsity assistant at Woodward and Roger Bacon. Prior to coming to Gamble, Coach Holmes was head varsity coach at Cincinnati College Prep Academy where they won the Sectionals and finished with a record of 22-4 last year. Coach Holmes is the founder of 4D United, a youth basketball organization with over 130 kids who range from grades K-8. Their motto is “It’s Bigger than Basketball.’’ His three core principles are:
Commitment, Selflessness, and Unity (Brotherhood)
Assistant Coaches are William Cook (Hughes grad), Raymond Mack (Taft grad), Andre Cox (Taft grad), Malcolm Hicks (Taft grad) and PJ Sanders (Withrow grad).
As Coach Holmes succeeded Coach Allen, Reggie Revels succeeds Coach Holmes at CCPA.
Coach Revels is not new to coaching in the Cincinnati area. He’s considered one of the most knowledgeable and experienced coaches in the region. Forest Park, Shroder, and Deer Park are his most noticeable involvements, but his participation in AAU and youth sports spans decades. Revels spent the past four seasons at Deer Park, where he was an assistant coach to Steve Gentry. He helped the 29-0 Wildcats to the 2018 Division III state title. We are lucky to have Coach Revels in the CMAC. He is assisted by son, Isiah Revels, and John Munson.
At Hughes, Derrell Black has taken over the driver’s seat. Coach Black is entering his ninth year of coaching at Hughes. He’s coached every single level at the school from junior high to now varsity head coach. He never saw coaching as the field he thought he would be in, but after seeing the impact he could have on the next generation he fell in love with and found a passion for the game. Hughes has been a part of his life for 13 year as a player, and now coach, and he is excited about the opportunity to take the helm of a great program.
Damarr Hopkins. Coach “Mardi” has been with the program for 13 years and is a pillar in the foundation of success in the program over the years.
Jack Smith, “Coach Jack” is one of the best players in the last 15 years of Hughes history (Hughes 09) and brings the knowledge of the game and a high skill level to help develop players in the program.
Other program assistant’s include Orlando Gentry, Peter Harris, DeAndre Cheatham, Solomon Ellison, Dwight Nared and Brian Niemann.
We will follow these head coaches and their schools are very closely and hope to get to the rest of the CMAC.
Next week, we will look at how COVID-19 is impacting the league and what CMAC administration is doing about it.