Damon Johnson got an offer he couldn’t refuse to return to Iceland to play pro basketball, which allowed opportunity to knock for fellow Science Hill graduate Corbin Stevens.
David Crockett coach John Good is bringing in Stevens as an assistant to replace Johnson, who will leave for Iceland in September.
“We are happy for Coach Johnson and his opportunity in professional basketball,” Good said. “The kids, community, and staff were blessed to have him as part of our program. We are equally happy for coach Corbin Stevens to join our basketball family. You replace a man of integrity with a man of integrity.”
Stevens played a key role at point guard in Science Hill’s 1990 state championship, particularly in the state semifinals upset of Whites Creek after the Hilltoppers had outlasted Memphis Christian Brothers in triple overtime the previous night.
Stevens, who is at East Tennessee State finishing a degree in sports management, has been coaching in some fashion for more than 20 years. He’s coached rec league and in AAU (Johnson City Heat, Chosen Few), and he’s eager for the new challenge.
“It is exciting,” Stevens said. “I’m happy to have the opportunity with coach Good.”
One of Stevens’ best coaching jobs might’ve been tutoring his younger brother, the late Demetric Stevens. After playing two years at Motlow State, Corbin returned to Johnson City and began working with Demetric, who was then 10 years old.
Demetric went on to score 1,906 points at Science Hill and was the Arby’s Classic MVP in 1999 after Mike Poe’s Hilltoppers beat teams such as Gainesville, Florida (Orien Greene, Jerald Fields).
“We worked and worked and worked and Demetric ended up being a good player,” Stevens said. “He was really, really efficient. If you looked at his percentages up there, they were incredible. He didn’t miss many shots. He made sure to capitalize when he had opportunities. And he was a great 3-point shooter.”
Corbin knows Crockett well. In fact, he spent time with the Pioneers’ all-time leading scorer, Shea Wilkerson, when he was in from Florida last week. Wilkerson played for Poe at Crockett in 1990 when the Pioneers put up a good fight against George Pitts’ state title-bound ’Toppers — at least for three quarters or so. Corbin recalled Crockett players such as Brian Griffith, Randy Bowman and Zeke Williams on that team.
But Science Hill had superior depth. Along with Orville Whittington, Shane Williams, Derrick Bristol, Mikey Bristol and Gilbert Charles, Pitts had Stevens, Tyrone Conley, Jamie Jones, Chico Gardner, Robbie Bradley, Eric Patton and Charles Love.
“Crockett had a good team,” Stevens said. “But we played 10, and the second five, in my mind, at any other school would’ve been starters. ... Really, we had 12.”
It would appear Crockett will have a depth advantage in the series this coming season with an already veteran team getting the addition of Science Hill transfers Ian Martin, Josh Releford and Michael Kucera.
You would assume Stevens’ son Will, an eighth-grader at Liberty Bell, would eventually make the move as well. But not so fast, Stevens says.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that,” he said. “He plays for Liberty Bell and wears the No. 10. That’s the number I wore and the number my brother, Demetric, wore. And I have a special bond with Science Hill and Coach (George) Pitts and coming up through that time. ... Will’s happy for me, and I’m happy with the opportunity.”
Stevens has coached most of Will’s teams since he was at Fairmont elementary, but said Will has also played for Science Hill assistant D.C. Smith.
“I played for D.C. and I wanted Will to have that experience,” Stevens said, “because D.C. is a good coach.”
Stevens liked what he saw from Good last season during the former Science Hill player/assistant’s first season leading Crockett, and Good is excited about his players’ getting the benefit of Stevens’ knowledge and character.
“He will be a great mentor for our players,” Good said, “and I am glad he is here.”
Stevens’ said his primary objective in coaching is to impact young lives — something his father Melvin did right up until the moment of his untimely death in the early ’90s. Melvin was the Carver Rec director.
“He was a lot of kids’ father figure,” Corbin said. “He cared about them. ... That’s all I want to do — be able to help people, get involved. I think he is smiling down sometimes.”
Former Science Hill pitcher Daniel Norris has looked like a man among boys since being promoted to Toronto’s Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. Norris struck out 13 and walked none in 5 2/3 innings on Friday against Norfolk.
In two starts with Buffalo, the hard-throwing southpaw is 2-0 with a 0.77 ERA. He’s allowed one run in 11 2/3 innings while striking out 23, walking one and giving up five hits.
Science Hill running back-receiver Mikey White has looked like a man among teens in scrimmages against Sullivan South and Dobyns-Bennett in the past couple of weeks.
He elevated for a 30-yard catch in traffic on a third-and-10 on the Hilltoppers’ opening possession against the Indians in the Big Seven Conference jamboree on Thursday in Bristol, and ended the 21-14 triumph by going up among others to intercept a Hail Mary attempt.
White also had three carries for 60 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown. He ran about 40 yards on one play for a 7-yard gain and had a 28-yard run negated by a holding infraction that wasn’t necessary for the athletic White.
It was as if you could hear the crowd hold its collective breath each time he touched the ball.
Stacy Carter’s Hilltoppers open on Aug. 29 at Elizabethton.comments powered by Disqus