Oak Mountain’s Love gets opportunity to coach in All Star game

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

MONTGOMERY – When Chris Love was first approached with the opportunity to coach in the North-South All Star basketball game in Montgomery by Vestavia Hills head basketball coach George Hatchett, he was flattered, but thought it was a joke.

“The first thought I had was I thought he was kidding,” Love said in a July 24 phone interview. “I told him, ‘I’m honored if you’re not joking with me.’”

Love has been with Oak Mountain High School since its inception 17 years ago, the first 10 as an assistant basketball and football coach and the last seven as the head basketball coach. He coaches in one of the toughest geographical areas of the state, less than 20 miles from Hoover and Mountain Brook, which met in the 7A state championship last year, and less than three miles from Spain Park, which boasts a roster that includes two of the top prep prospects in the country. It’s cutthroat, and coaches around the state know it, which in part made the opportunity to coach in the All Star game special to Love.

“What’s more important to me was the fact that it’s basketball coaches in the state doing the nominating, that made it special. I’ve know coach Hatchett a long time and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and his program, and there are a lot of really, really good basketball coaches in the state.”

All of the coaches for all of the All Star games had a meeting in June to get the rosters for their teams, which is when Love got his roster for his North squad, which is made up of some of the best rising seniors in the state. After contacting all of his players to make sure they were still available to play, during which Love learned the disappointing news that the No. 1 player in the state, Josh Langford, would not be playing, he met his team on July 20, just two days before the game.

“We had an hour and 15 minute practice on Monday, and two more the next day then played on Wednesday,” Love said. “It’s not a whole lot of time, you can’t put a whole lot of stuff in. But it’s about the kids, making sure they have fun.”

On top of their prodigious talent on the court, Love stressed how fun it was to be around his adopted team, and the caliber of the kids on it.

“All of our kids were great kids, too,” he added. “They’ve worked extremely hard on their games and are a great bunch of kids. It’s just fun to be around a group as talented as that.”