The Harmony Grove Hornets boys' basketball program is young but eager to win on the court.
After the departure of head coach Chris Clinton for an administration job at Ouachita High School, the school looked for its next leader, eventually deciding to match that young but eager energy with the hiring of Eddie Potts as the new head coach. Potts was previously assistant coach for the Star City girls' basketball team and the Cross Country team head coach.
Potts is taking over a Hornets' team that has accumulated an overall record of 3-31 (0-18 in conference play) in the last two seasons. In the 2019-2020 season, the Hornets won the regional title. Harmony Grove then encountered three tough stages within the program: a significant amount of graduating talent, the transition from 2A to 3A play and COVID-19 shutting down athletics.
The Hornets are not looking for any more excuses under coach Potts; they are looking for solidity and potential wins. Despite the switch from coaching girls' basketball to boys' basketball, Potts knows how to develop a team that hungers for success on the courts.
"I think the boys have been real receptive so far, and they have bought in and what we're trying to do. It's actually been a little bit easier for me," Potts said.
Potts knows the challenge ahead of the Hornets' basketball team as he tries to create a culture change on and off the court. The sport of basketball is a significant program in the Hornets' athletics department, but it does not have the recent track record of the baseball and football teams.
"The last couple of years have been a little down from what was expected and no fault of anyone, just some bad breaks with COVID and some graduation of some key players. This year, we've got a good core and good young kids, sophomores, and juniors. Our premise is just going to be that we come in, control what we control, and work hard every day. We make sure that we're worried about ourselves, and we're going to get better every day," Potts said.
"Philosophy-wise, it's been, you know, like I told you, they changing the cultures is kinda what we're trying to do and develop a winning mentality that kids expect when we step on the floor that we're gonna win," he added.
Potts is determined to create a program to win night-in and night-out. This past week, he has already established himself as the Hornets participated in two camps, including the SAU Tech camp, last Friday. Harmony Grove was one of four teams participating in team camps and exhibitions. The Hornets faced off against the Camden Fairview Cardinals, the Woodlawn Bears and the Hampton Bulldogs.
The Hornets took on the Cardinals in a test to see where they were at in their development. Harmony Grove showed they have the determination and the talent to keep with the high-caliber teams on the court. The Hornets lost to the Cardinals in a two-quarter exhibition 39-21 after being down 22-15 in the first half. Junior guard Landon Garrett scored 14 points, shooting 6-of-8 in field goals. He also accounted for three steals, two assists, and one block.
The Hornets were missing point guard Caleb Johnson, guard/forward Harry Nix, guard/forward Davonta Hubbard, forward Quentin Jones and forward Braden Smith. All of these players and guard Zakyus Smith are players that coach Potts mentioned will be key players for the Hornets' 2022-2023 High School Basketball season.
Potts will look to develop these players more after the conclusion of the Hornets' fall football season, but he already knows the impact and playing potential of his players. Potts is already feeling determined to show Hornets Nation the change that will come to the program.
"I think we're going to surprise some people this year. The kids have been extremely receptive to what we're trying to do. I think many people were going to be surprised with what we put on the floor versus what has been in the past. Part of that is that we have a good younger group coming up to go with our juniors and seniors. Overall, this is it's going to be a really good group and a really fun group," Potts concluded.