Roberts takes over Oakman boys basketball program

New coach spent last two years at Hillcrest-Evergreen

By JOHNATHAN BENTLEY, Eagle Sports Editor
Posted 8/1/18

OAKMAN — Derek Roberts was surrounded by a winning culture at Hillcrest-Evergreen for the last two seasons. He hopes to bring those winning ways to the Oakman High School boys basketball team in 2018.

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Roberts takes over Oakman boys basketball program

New coach spent last two years at Hillcrest-Evergreen

Posted

OAKMAN — Derek Roberts was surrounded by a winning culture at Hillcrest-Evergreen for the last two seasons. He hopes to bring those winning ways to the Oakman High School boys basketball team in 2018.

Roberts is the Wildcats’ new head coach, replacing Chris Berry, who led the boys program over the last three seasons.

Roberts served as an assistant for the Jaguars the last two years.

Hillcrest-Evergreen made the state semifinals in Class 3A in the 2016-17 season and lost the championship game to Plainview on a buzzer-beater in overtime last year in Birmingham. Though the Jaguars are becoming perennial state contenders under coach Chenson Griffin, Roberts wanted to lead his own program.

“I had been looking for a head coaching job. I’m excited. I haven’t been a head coach in three years. I’m looking forward to it,” said Roberts. “Working with coach Griffin, I learned a lot. He’s one of those coaches that is willing to trust his assistants. Sometimes you have to have somebody on the sideline you can trust because you can’t see everything.”

Roberts, originally from Monroeville, played basketball at Alabama Southern for two years, winning a state title. He closed out his collegiate career with two years at Miles College, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2000. He started his coaching career the same year at Jess Lanier in Bessemer. He’s coached in Butler County, Monroe County and Escambia County before ending up at Hillcrest, located in Conecuh County, two years ago.

Roberts is one of several new head coaches at Oakman. Principal Patrick Gann has hired a new girls basketball coach as well as softball and baseball coaches.

“The reason I was interested in the (Oakman) job is because it was a head coaching position and English teacher. I also teach English,” Roberts said. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve met some nice people. All the coaches have called and congratulated me on the job, welcoming me in. I think I’m going to enjoy it.”

Oakman was 35-37 under Berry, advancing to the sub-region playoffs in 2015-16. Oakman has been eliminated by Carbon Hill in the area tournament each of the last two seasons. The team finished 9-14 last year, but returns its top two scorers — Skylar Hice (20.8 points per game) and Christian Hubbard (18.4 ppg).

Oakman will compete in Class 3A, Area 8 with Carbon Hill, Winfield and South Lamar in the 2018-19 season.

“I like a fast-paced game. When I say fast paced, it will be organized. It won’t be like I’m just rolling them the ball,” said Roberts. “We are going to play defense. We will run a half-court and full-court trap.

“I told these kids that it’s not always talent that wins ball games. You can sneak up on a team and get a win here and there, but it’s all about determination, that’s what I try to instill to my son.”

Roberts’ son Derek, who played at Monroe County last season in his junior season, will join the Wildcats this season to be coached by his father.