Brandon Hutchins’ basketball coaching career hasn’t taken him to Forsyth County until now, but he has still held a keen interest in the area, on in which he sees the interest and support for high school athletics to be especially strong.
When the Forsyth Central boys job opened up after Greg Dirst decided to step down, however, Hutchins didn’t act immediately. He was in his first season at Habersham Central, which he had taken on as a rebuilding challenge after a highly successful time at Starr’s Mill, where he had coached for 15 years prior, won more than 150 games and reached the state quarterfinals in 2018.
The project at Habersham Central, which finished 3-21 this past season, was certainly going to take more than one season, and because of that, Hutchins felt some guilt for leaving. But the opportunity at Forsyth Central was just too good, and he applied after a few weeks. His hire was approved at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.
“Something just kept tugging at my heartstrings to apply,” Hutchins said on Thursday.
The Bulldogs aren’t quite a rebuilding project: They did make the state playoffs, claiming the No. 4 seed from Region 5-7A, and they graduate just two seniors. But they haven’t had a winning record since 2010-11 and have won 14 games combined over the past two seasons.
Hutchins is used to building programs up, though. That was his intention at Habersham Central, and he did the same at Starr’s Mill, giving that relatively new program unprecedented stability and sustained success.
And he sees the potential for similar success at Forsyth Central. Hutchins knows it can be done in the county, having seen Scott Bracco’s run at Lambert, and he also noticed the turnaround Frank Hepler recently pulled with the Bulldogs’ football program, having flipped that team from an 0-10 season in 2017 to seven wins and a playoff berth in 2018.
“I think they’re a program that’s waiting to explode,” Hutchins said of Central.
Hutchins’ plan is to get there isn’t particularly groundbreaking or unique on its surface. He wants to start “from the ground up,” building trust and buy-in with players, parents and the community. He described his teams as “disciplined” and “well-coached,” ones that run motion offense and play zone defense with multiple different looks. Hutchins has seen film of the Bulldogs, and he’s already excited about the pieces he has to work with, like the guard duo of Anthony Roveto and Brandon Sherer.
“I like what I see on film,” he said. “They play hard.”