What struck Scott Givens the most after he was announced as the next head boys’ basketball coach at South Forsyth on Wednesday was the similarity between this and his first head coaching opportunity.
In 2009, he moved from Georgia back to his native Tennessee to coach the boys’ basketball team at Coffee County Central High School in Manchester. He was closer to home, just an hour away from Nashville, but he was a long way from helping Gainesville High School make state tournament runs from 2000-09.
His first year, Central went 4-20. Three seasons later, Central was 15-16, and Givens was voted District 6-AAA Coach of the Year by his peers.
“It was a process there,” Givens said, “and I think it’s going to be a process here.”
Givens will pick up the process at South where his mentor, Manson Hill, left off, replacing the veteran coach who resigned shortly after this season’s Region 6-AAAAAA tournament. Hill went 18-54 in three seasons.
Despite all the progress Givens made at Central, he knew eventually his family would move back to Georgia, and the timing was perfect in 2013 to reunite with the coach he helped to lead the Gainesville girls’ basketball team to back-to-back state titles in 2003 and 2004.
Givens has seen the incremental improvement at South the past two seasons. Behind seniors Thomas McClellan and Zach Sewing and all-region sophomore Evan Cole, the War Eagles went 8-17 this past season while proving to be more competitive overall.
“Right now we’re in the middle half of the region,” Givens said. “We want to get in that upper tier with teams like Lambert and Alpharetta and Centennial.”
That, Givens said, will take time, just like it did at Central, and the most critical component as he sees it is the work South players put in during the offseason.
“We’ve got great kids here,” Givens said. “We really do. We’ve got high-character kids. We’re going to try to get them to reach their ceiling, and hopefully that ceiling is in the top four (in the region), getting into state, trying to be one of the best teams in this region – try to be the best team in this county. Obviously, we know that’s going to be a big challenge.”