There was plenty of turnover this past offseason in the high school basketball coaching ranks.
Schaumburg, Zion-Benton, St. Viator, Oswego, Huntley, Richards, Kenwood, St. Laurence and Lincoln-Way West are among the many programs with a new head coach heading into the 2014-2015 season. But there were some significant “big name” hires as well, including a few coaches who had previous high levels of success as a head coach and have returned to their roots.
As we inch towards the start of practice in in three weeks, here are the five biggest coaching names that were hired this offseason.
Rocky Hill, Thornridge
He’s most easily identifiable as the coach of the great Thornton teams of the 1990s, which included a memorable three-year run where the Wildcats went 93-4 but lost to the legendary Peoria Manual teams at the state finals all three years. But Hill also orchestrated a quick rebuilding job at Crete-Monee, putting the program back on the map with three straight regional championships from 2008 to 2010.
Now Hill, who has a career record of 268-123, returns as a head coach — and where he graduated from — to lead a struggling program. Thornridge has had little to no success since coach Mike Flaherty’s highly impressive two-decade long run ended in 2006.
Al Biancalana, DeKalb
DeKalb, a program that hasn’t won a sectional championship in nearly 50 years, landed a successful coach with a ton of experience. The highly-respected Biancalana spent 10 years as a college assistant at Bradley, and for the past four years at UIC. In 17 years as a high school head coach, including stops at York, Downers Grove North, Stagg and two high schools in California, he put together a 313-171 record.
Donnie Kirksey, Julian
A Chicago guy who previously spent time on both the DePaul and Chicago State coaching staffs, as well as the past four seasons as an assistant coach at UIC.
Sandwiched in between those college coaching stops was an impressive three-year run at Hyde Park. From 2008-2010 the Thunderbirds averaged nearly 24 wins a year under Kirksey, going 71-18. His 2009 team finished 28-5 and won a sectional championship.
Now he leads a program that has struggled in recent years after a successful run in the Public League behind coach Loren Jackson and stars Sean Dockery and Brandon Ewing a decade ago.
Michael Ingram, Proviso West
Officially hired just last week, Ingram takes over a program in need of a jolt after Proviso West went 8-17 last season, including 2-10 in conference play. Ingram brings name recognition to Proviso West and the community having been an all-stater and Sun-Times Player of the Year in 1985 while leading the best team in Proviso West history.
Marc Condotti, Homewood-Flossmoor
Ok, so he’s not a big name yet based on personal coaching success — this is his first crack as a head coach. But the Condotti name is huge in Chicago area basketball, nonetheless. His father, Roy Condotti, was a legendary coach at both Westinghouse (from 1986-1995) and H-F (1996 to 2005), where he compiled 385 wins in those 19 seasons.
Now the son, a longtime assistant at H-F, gets his shot at running what was the most coveted high school job opening this past offseason. Marc Condotti, who has been a part of the H-F program for 11 years, will have his father on his staff.