By Brian Paglia
Greg Wilson wasn't looking for a new job. As the girls basketball coach at Luella High School, he felt there wasn't another place in Henry county that provided a coach with talented players on a consistent basis.
But when the boys basketball position at Locust Grove opened in recent weeks, a call came to Wilson to gauge his interest and he couldn't refuse the opportunity to return to coaching boys.
"I'm probably more geared for boys basketball," Wilson said. "There's a lot of pluses and minuses to both."
A former boys head coach in Alabama for seven years, Wilson will replace John Bishop, who guided the Wildcats to a 1-25 record in their first season.
Locust Grove struggled mightily in its first year, but showed some signs of progress late in the year, losing its final three games by an average of just five points.
Wilson is familiar with the struggle of building from scratch. A former assistant coach at Griffin in 2003 when the Bears won the Class AAAA championship, Wilson joined the Luella boys program as an assistant when the school opened in 2003. A year later, he took over as head girls coach.
It took some time, but Wilson turned the Lady Lions into consistent winners, making the state tournament the past three seasons and competing in one of the toughest regions in Class AAAAA with juggernauts like Douglass, Redan and Stephenson.
"Our girls knew they had to go to work," Wilson said.
"They didn't want to be embarassed. That helped motivate them. We knew if we came out of our region that we could compete."
Wilson hopes to instill a similar mentality at Locust Grove and he sees no reason why it can't be done.
"From what I've seen," Wilson said,
"I think we've got enough good athletes that if they're willing to put in the time in the offseason and work hard, we can be competitive, especially in Class AAA.
It took me three years at Luella. Hopefully we can start seeing some of that success soon here.
"A lot depends not just on me, but on the kids and parents and wanting to have it and pay the price to be that successful. ... I'm real excited about it. I think it's a situation that can be as good as how hard we work."