Dru Powell headed to Saraland, Thompson looking for new basketball coach
Published 9:51 am Thursday, June 30, 2022
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor
ALABASTER – Dating back to last September, it has been a difficult time for Thompson head basketball coach Dru Powell, which led to a difficult but necessary decision in recent days.
Powell, who had what he considered a dream job at one of the state’s top high schools, decided to practice what he preaches to his team on a daily basis—being there for your family.
With his wife’s mother recently passing away unexpectedly and other family health scares in recent months, Powell decided it was time to move closer to family.
In turn, he decided to step down from Thompson and take an assistant coaching job at Saraland High School.
“We talk about words like family, brotherhood, all-in, humility. We talk about those words quite a bit,” Powell said. “You can either talk about it or be about it. It’s easy to talk about it, but when the opportunity comes to live it as opposed to talk about it, that’s where the rubber meets the road. In my situation, I chose to be about it. I chose to walk the talk, if you will, and value things that we talk about valuing. Obviously, the decision wasn’t easy. I’m not excited about leaving, but I’m at peace, and it’s a part of God’s plan.”
In his time at Thompson, Powell completely revitalized the program, taking them from 2-26 the year before he got there to an immediate 21-12 season and a spot in the Sweet 16 his first year leading the Warriors.
He spent the next four years leading the team to a winning record each season. The Warriors lost to Oak Mountain the next two years to fall short of the Sweet 16, but it came in years the Eagles went to the Final Four twice and won a state championship.
Powell then led Thompson back to the Sweet 16 this past season, eventually falling to state runner-up James Clemens.
At the time of his departure, he had won more than 70 games in his four years.
I told the family last night, I feel like I’m leaving the best job in the state, but my time here has come to an end,” Powell said. “We had great people involved in our program. I was glad to play a small role to get the program headed in the direction it is now. I hate to walk away with the coaches and quality we have, but again, God’s plan is more important than mine.”
Powell said he was extremely grateful to Alabaster City Schools Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers, Thompson Principal Dr. Wesley Hester, Thompson Athletic Director Vincent Pitts and Thompson head football coach and districtwide AD Mark Freeman.
“Those guys have given me every opportunity to be successful and have been very helpful during a difficult time for my family,” Powell said. “I’m very thankful for them.”
He added that the community support, the parental support, and the support of parents, faculty and staff were all key in helping build the program into what it is now.
Powell was also proud of the fact that four assistant coaches in his four years were able to take the step to becoming a head coach.
“It goes well beyond how many wins we have as a team,” he said. “I know that it’s well on its way to continued success. I’ll certainly be pulling for the Warriors.”
One of the most difficult conversations, however, came with his team.
He met with them on Tuesday night, June 28 to break the news.
“I told them that God’s plan isn’t always part of your plan,” he said. “I told them I didn’t see this coming, but my responsibility is to be where my family needs me. I’m very proud of what our kids accomplished. I feel like they benefited from it from a basketball side, but also developing and growing into young men. I’m proud of the job we did over the last four years.”
Powell will now join Andy Ryan’s staff as an assistant at Saraland, and while it was an unexpected move, he is excited for the opportunity ahead.
“I’m excited to open this next chapter closer to family and give them what they need in this time,” Powell said. “We are looking forward to joining the Saraland Spartan family and having an impact on some young people in that area.”