As soon as Tim Slater stepped on campus Thursday at Johnson High, news started to circulate quickly about him being named the new boys basketball coach. Slater, an assistant under Allen Whitehart at Buford High the past two seasons, was already a familiar face to some of the Knights’ seniors, having coached Ty Cockfield in the GACA All-Star Game recently in Savannah.
Having coached nearby, Slater already knows he’s stepping into a school where passion for basketball runs high. He takes over for Jeff Steele, who resigned his position last month before being named the new coach at Lumpkin County.
“The response I’ve received from people in this community already has been overwhelming,” said the 33-year-old Slater, who was officially named Johnson coach Thursday.
Slater, a five-year head-coaching veteran, said his introductory meeting with players, including the five rising Knights seniors is today at the school. Then on Monday, he will meet with parents to discuss his plans for the program.
He said, when applying for the position a few things stood out about Johnson: community and administrative support.
The Knights (30-1 in 2014-15) are at a high point in basketball achievement, winning back-to-back Region 8-AAAA championships. Even with Johnson’s two biggest stars Cockfield (28 points per game) and Roderick English (19 ppg.) both preparing to play college basketball next year, Slater said the program plans on remaining a force for years to come.
“The kids in this program are such competitors,” said Slater. “The opportunity to be a part of the tradition of this program is a tremendous opportunity for me as a coach.”
Prior to coaching at Buford, Slater was a head coach with a pair of Georgia Independent Schools Associations programs in south Georgia. He spent two years at Robert Toombs Academy, leading the Crusaders to the GISA Elite 8 in 2013 and a region title.
His first stint as a head coach was at Statesboro’s Bulloch Academy for three seasons.