ELKHART — Randy DeShone spent the last three years as an assistant principal at Jimtown, working with and learning from “some fantastic people,” but he never shook his itch to coach.
DeShone got that itch scratched in a high-profile way Tuesday, June 17, being named to head up the Elkhart Central boys basketball program.
“I just love coaching, love working with kids,” DeShone said. “There is not a more satisfying or rewarding experience to me than when you see kids starting to get it on a basketball floor, where they make sacrifices of themselves to be successful as a group, and learn life lessons along the way.”
New Elkhart Central boys basketball coach Randy DeShone has called an informational meeting for both prospective players and parents at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 18, in the cafeteria area.
In DeShone, 52, the Blue Blazers have landed the man who coached the only state champion in Elkhart County boys basketball history, the Class 2A Jimtown Jimmies in 2004.
Overall, DeShone coached Jimtown for 20 years, compiling a 241-201 record. His .545 winning percentage is tops among the Jimmies’ last 12 coaches.
He relinquished the position in 2011 based on the school corporation’s policy preventing administrators from being coaches.
At Central, where he’ll teach math, DeShone succeeds Troy Noble, who went 11-30 over two years before resigning a few hours before the Blazers’ 4A sectional semifinal.
“Randy is well-known in the area for his superior coaching,” Central principal Frank Serge said in a statement. “He brings with him a legacy of developing players to their full potential, and of understanding how to outplay the competition. As a resident of Elkhart, Randy is ready to use his skills to build (Central basketball) into a program the Elkhart community proudly supports.”
DeShone happened to move into the Central district four years ago, after building a house there.
Adam DeShone, a junior-to-be and the fourth of Randy’s six children, will be joining him at Central. Adam averaged 8.5 points last season as a sophomore guard for the Jimmies.
“I’ve always thought Elkhart Central would be a great place to coach, and I have great respect for the tradition there,” Randy DeShone said. “I’m just very impressed with what their philosophies are and the direction they want to go.”
Some of Central’s rich boys basketball tradition includes State Finals appearances in 1978, 1995 and 1999, but more recently, the Blazers have labored just to find winning seasons. There’s been one in the last nine years, that being 13-11 in 2010-11.
“We’ll base the program on three things,” DeShone said. “No. 1, we’re going to play great defense. To be successful, to beat good teams, you have to. No. 2, we’re going to play hard. That’s something we can always control. And No. 3, we’re going to be unselfish. It won’t be about ‘I.’ It’s going to be about ‘we.’”
At Jimtown, DeShone and his assistants built a reputation for stifling, blue-collar defenses, frequently ranking among the state’s top teams in fewest points allowed.
He also built a reputation for often deliberate offenses, but the coach indicated Tuesday he might be inclined toward a quicker pace with the Blazers.
“I know that’s a big worry for people, and I understand that,” DeShone said with a chuckle. “When I was at Jimtown, we played an offense that gave us the best chance to win. And at Elkhart Central, we’re going to play an offense that gives us the best chance to win, and what I foresee is us getting up and down the floor, pressing and extending the floor, using our athleticism to create things at both ends of the floor.”
DeShone said he is just beginning the process of assembling a coaching staff, but added that “they will be coaches who want to work, bring their voices and ideas to practices and games. I’m going to delegate authority. I always did that at Jimtown, and we had a lot of success because of the people around me.”
DeShone, a 1979 Concord graduate who played for the Minutemen, is married to Tracey.
His children besides Adam include Derrick, the former Jimtown star recently picked to be head coach at Three Rivers (Mich.); Brian, who also excelled on the court for his father and now works in the Detroit area; Sarah, a Jimtown girls great who played at Ferris State and is finishing school there; Matt, who is entering fifth grade; and Natalie, age 3.