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Coach Wootten steps down

November 8, 2002 Columns No Comments


Coaching Legend Calls it a Career

by Phil Kasiecki

On Wednesday, a legend in the basketball coaching world decided to move on, as DeMatha Catholic High School (Hyattsville, Maryland) head basketball coach Morgan Wootten retired after 46 incredible seasons at the helm.

Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000, the 71-year old Wootten won 1,274 games while losing just 192 as the head coach of DeMatha, winning an amazing 86.8% of the games he coached. Five times, the Stags were voted national champions in the United States. He is one of just three prep coaches to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Wootten wasted no time being a winner, as the Stags were 22-10 in his first season as head coach. In his second season, they went 17-11, which would be the only season they won less than 20 games during his storied career. Under Wootten, the Stags lost 10 or more games in just five seasons, and went undefeated in the 1977-78 and 1990-91 seasons. They went 32-3 this past season, winning their final 18 games.

Wootten coached several players who went on to be college stars, and a dozen who went on to play in the NBA. Some notable DeMatha alumni include Harvard graduate James Brown (host of The NFL on FOX), Adrian Dantley (Notre Dame), Charles “Hawkeye” Whitney (North Carolina State), Kenny Carr (North Carolina State), Dereck Whittenburg (North Carolina State), Jerrod Mustaf (Maryland), Duane Simpkins (Maryland), Kenny Blakeney (Duke), and Danny Ferry (Duke). More recently, there is current Seattle Supersonic Joseph Forte (North Carolina), his DeMatha teammate Keith Bogans (a senior at Kentucky), Syracuse freshman Billy Edelin, and Maryland freshman Travis Garrison.

Given Wootten’s success as a coach, it should not surprise anyone that several of his players have gone on to become head coaches themselves. Mike Brey (Notre Dame), Perry Clark (Miami) and Heath Schroyer (Portland State) are all currently head coaches in Division I. Sidney Lowe is the current head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies and was previously the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, for whom he also played in the franchise’s inaugural season.

Asked about what he will do in his retirement, Wootten plans to run his Coach Wootten Basketball Camp every summer, as well as speak at clinics and write. He has written five books on basketball.

High school basketball will live on, but it won’t be the same without Wootten, who has been the chairman of the McDonald’s All-American Game selection committee since 1977. Wootten genuinely loved coaching high school kids; he turned down many offers to become a college coach over his 46 years. Like everyone else, his players can only say great things about him. He has set a sky-high standard not only for the next head coach at DeMatha, but for high school coaches everywhere.

Congratulations and best wishes in your retirement, Coach.

Special thanks to Hoopville Senior Writer Jed Tai for contributing a list of notable alumni who played for Wootten.

     

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