New Role, Familiar Venue for Brakebill
Wiley Brakebill’s roots are embedded deep in Loudon.
The Loudon Redskins’ head basketball coach grew up in the town and attended Loudon High School, where he played basketball and football, before returning to both programs after college as an assistant coach.
Now, a year after being named interim coach following the departure of Trae Watkins, there are no plans for Brakebill to step down.
The roots are too deep.
“Whenever you’ve been in the program for so long, you take a certain pride about it,” Brakebill said. “Being able to come back is always something I’ve wanted to do, so being able to be just around the program that you grew up in and that you poured a lot into, it does mean a lot.
“I’m excited to be able to do that.”
The Redskins finished last season with an 11–14 record, including a win streak that put the team above 0.500 for a portion of the year after going 3–10 to start out.
“Last year when I got the job kind of on a whim, it was very good reception at that point because everybody kind of knew the situation that I was going into,” Brakebill said. “It was very supportive last year because of the way that I got the job.”
For year two, the program will look to continue to improve under Brakebill. There will be challenges, as the team loses Dalton Bogus, the All-County Player of the Year who averaged 16.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game last season, to graduation.
Brakebill does have returning talent to work with, however. Rising senior Alex McBride, also an All-County selection, averaged 6.4 points per game and recorded a team-high 50 assists in 2016–2017, bringing offensive leadership to the squad.
“Now this year, going into it and already having the expectation of what we want to do and what we want to see, I feel it will be a little bit different,” Brakebill said. “Because now people will know, ‘Coach has had them for a year. He’s had them all offseason, so what can he do?’ So I think it will be a little bit of higher expectations now, which it should be.”
Another strength that Brakebill sees in his program: the coaching staff.
Brakebill has surrounded himself with assistant coaches that share his same background. His staff at Loudon is comprised of former players and coaches who are familiar with the school and the system.
“My assistants are all Loudon guys too,” Brakebill said. “I think when you take pride in a place, it really does speak volumes. Ben Curtis and Jesse Henry, graduates from here…Steve Millsaps is coming back and helping me. He coached Loudon to state in ’88 and ’91.
“So when you’ve got guys that love the program and love the kids, I think everything else works its way out.”
Ethan Collis, who was a senior on the team this past season and played for both Watkins and Brakebill during his career, saw the value that playing under home-grown coaches gives a player.
“They teach us to go out there and play our heart out for the name on our chest,” Collis said. “To give all the heart we have every moment.”
The narrative of Brakebill’s career as head coach of the Redskins is still being written. But for Collis, the impact has already been a positive one.
“(Brakebill’s) first year, I think, was great,” Collis said. “I hope to see him coach more years, but if he don’t, I’m glad I got to finish out my senior year with him. I think it was great.”