Drake takes over Shelby County program

Published 12:42 pm Friday, September 2, 2016

Cedric Drake (middle) has taken over as the head coach of the Shelby County boys basketball program in place of Torry Brown. (Reporter Photo / Baker Ellis)

Cedric Drake (middle) has taken over as the head coach of the Shelby County boys basketball program in place of Torry Brown. (Reporter Photo / Baker Ellis)

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

COLUMBIANA – Heading into the 2016-17 basketball season, the Shelby County Wildcats will have a new man in charge of the boys’ basketball program. In the wake of Torry Brown’s departure, Shelby County has named Cedric Drake as the new man to lead the Wildcats.

Drake came to Shelby County in July from Meridian Community College in Meridian, Miss., where he was the head coach for the last four seasons.

“I was familiar with Shelby County teams in the past, and (familiar) with some of the teams they’ve had in the past,” Drake said. “I knew it was a talent-rich area, just knowing the history of some of the guys who have come through here. This was a job I was really interested in because I felt like there’s an opportunity to come in and have some success early, and then have some sustained success because of the talent that comes through.”

Drake is a native of LaFayette, Alabama, and was a two-sport standout for the Bulldogs from 1994-98. Out of high school he was recruited to play football, but chose to play basketball at Meridian Community College, where he eventually came back to coach, before finishing his playing days at Auburn University at Montgomery.

After his playing days were over, Drake spent a few years coaching at the high school level before venturing into the college ranks. He is one of the few coaches who has transitioned back and forth between both, and understands the differences between coaching prep players as opposed to college athletes.

“The development of players (is different),” Drake said. “Really just getting a chance to teach them to play the way you want to play. In college, especially in junior college, you only have them two years. By the time you get them exactly where you want them, it’s time to go. In high school, you get them in ninth grade and you can put your imprint on them then. As they learn you continue to enhance and build off those skills.”

That imprint Drake will try to instill on his players is a fast-paced brand of basketball that came to define his coaching style at Meridian Community.

“We want to put pressure on them, offensively and defensively,” Drake added. “That’s kind of been my staple as a coach. We want to run the break, push the basketball and get easy baskets. We want to get after people on defense, get in your face and create turnovers. We’ll do a lot of different stuff, but that’s going to be our staple. I want to make sure we get people excited about basketball, I want it to be fun to come watch.”

The Wildcats will benefit this year from the return of senior guard Brandon Greene, who missed most of last year recovering from a knee injury. Greene is a long, athletic swingman who is capable of knifing through the lane to get easy buckets, and he will be a focal point of the Shelby County offense this season. The other seniors on this year’s team will be JT Owen and Colin Baker.

Last season, Shelby County ended the year with a 9-17 record, and lost to Sylacauga in the first round of the 5A Area 8 tournament. The Wildcats are set to start the 2016-17 season on Nov. 10 when Shelby County will host Helena.