Former Hornet Lee linked to Hillside job

Jul. 05, 2014 @ 10:05 PM

Multiple sources who are plugged in to high school basketball in this area said Rashard Lee is a candidate to become the head basketball coach at Hillside High School, his alma mater.

Nobody has been hired to replace former Hillside coach Crasten Davis, Durham Public Schools athletics director Larry McDonald said.

The Hornets were 16-12 last season with Davis as their leader. They made it to the second round of the playoffs.

McDonald said “internal issues” are behind why Davis no longer is Hillside's basketball coach.

Parents of both current and former Hillside players have talked in terms of Davis being a hard worker and a fair coach.

McDonald said Davis was a good coach.

If Lee is the next coach, Hillside would be bringing back an alumnus from the mid-1990s who further honed his hoops skills at the University of Tennessee and turned that into a professional basketball career in Europe.

Lee has spent recent seasons on the bench at Chapel Hill High School as an assistant coach learning from both Tod Morgan and Lason Perkins, former head coach and interim head coach at Chapel Hill, respectively, who combined to win a lot of games and send plenty of young men to college.

It's going to be critical to hire the right person at Hillside, the school's historical significance being what it is, McDonald said.

Before integration, black students in Durham went to Hillside, where young men and women were known for handling their business both in the classrooms and on the ball fields and courts.

Former NBA players John Lucas Jr. and Rodney Rogers are among Hillside's most famous alumni.

Tammy Thompson, a Hillside alumna whose son, Trevion, played basketball for Davis, said she would like to see a return to the days when Hillside's basketball teams were as strong as the school's football squads.

Trevion Thompson earned a football scholarship to Clemson University. He'll be a freshman this fall.

Tammy Thompson said she appreciated the discipline Davis provided for her son.

Hillside's basketball players would show up to games looking neat and crisp in deep-blue blazers.

But Davis knew how to keep things loose, too, like that time when he hammed it up with his players in one of those “Harlem Shake” videos.

McDonald said high school coaches these days have more to deal with than those back in the day when he was coaching. The accumulation of losses isn't always why coaches lose their jobs — sometimes, the particular situation just doesn't work, he said.

Coaches in Durham's schools system serve from season to season, McDonald said. There are no long-term coaching contracts in DPS, he said.

Davis said he is grateful to the greater Durham community to have had the opportunity to coach kids at Hillside for three seasons.

“We won the conference tournament my first year and played in the championship game the other two years,” Davis said. “We have accomplished many goals, including conference and playoffs success, graduating our young men and some going on to college. My goal was to build winners on and off the court. We were successful. I wish the Hornets, young and old, the best of luck in the future.”