Josh Cook, who led Mercer County’s boys to their second Sweet Sixteen appearance in just his second season with the program, has been named the new head coach at Clark County. He accepted the position Monday.
It was a decision completely motivated by family, Cook said. He and his wife, Shana, recently had a daughter, and Shana’s parents live in nearby Mount Sterling.
“I’m very blessed to be in the position I am,” Cook said. “The timing’s not the best but sometimes great opportunities come and you’ve got to be willing to go after ’em and go get ’em. ... My little girl’s grandparents are gonna be 15 minutes away and that’s something I want my wife and our family to be able to have.”
Cook, 32, stressed over the decision because of the relationships he’d built with his players and the community in Mercer County.
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“It’s not an easy decision at all,” Cook said. “I wanted to be honest with the kids and I appreciate everything the community and school has done for me. I’ve enjoyed my two years here. It’s been very special.”
While the Titans graduated several players and lost potential Mr. Basketball candidate Dylan James — who transferred back to Sheldon Clark after his father was named superintendent in Martin County — from last year’s team that fell to eventual champion Paul Laurence Dunbar, the cupboard won’t be bare for whoever succeeds Cook. Trevon Faulkner, a budding star in the Class of 2018, was Mercer’s leading scorer last season as a sophomore. Gunner Gillis, who was Anderson County’s third-leading scorer (and football quarterback) last season, is also now at Mercer County.
“I feel good cause I left it in a great situation,” Cook said. “They’ve got a team that I feel like can compete for the 12th Region title. ... In the end I wish them the best.”
Before his stint at Mercer County, Cook spent two seasons at Lawrence County, whom he led to deep runs in the 15th Region Tournament. He’s also served as an assistant at Montgomery County, Knox Central and June Buchanan.
Clark County relieved longtime coach Scott Humphrey of his coaching position for undisclosed reasons last week. In a letter to the Winchester Sun, Humphrey spoke kindly of his time with the program and said he would be the “biggest fan” of whomever replaced him.