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Friday June 24th, 2022 6:46PM

Basketball: Tigers opening generating plenty of interest, despite the lateness

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

COMMERCE — Despite the late timing in the coach hiring season, there’s been plenty of interest in the suddenly open head coaching position at Commerce.

Nearly two dozen applications have been received by Commerce Principal and Athletic Director William Smith to replace Russ Gregg, who resigned on Thursday to take a similar position at Greenwood High School in Greenwood, S.C.

“I have to admit, I was very surprised to already get that many, considering we’re already in mid-June. That to me is really flattering to the school that so many are interested,” said Smith on Monday, just four days later. “My goal is to have someone in place by the end of the month (June).”

Smith also said he was a little surprised of Gregg’s decision to leave his alma mater.

“He’s a Commerce guy. He played here; his dad was a long-time coach here; this is home,” Smith said. “He’s a guy that has shown he can rebuild programs. He had mentioned before that this was possible but honestly, I didn’t think he would leave since it’s Commerce. We’re very sad to see him leave but we also wish him luck at his new home.”

Gregg spent five years rebuilding the Tigers. In his first two seasons, they won just six total games. However, in 2021 they ended a nine-year playoff drought and this past season they posted their most wins (12) since 2012, which also culminated in their first playoff win since 2010.

“Coach Gregg left us way better off than when he returned home,” Smith said. “We’re very appreciative of what he did for the program.”

Smith went on to say the highest priority is finding someone to continue the work Gregg started.

“We’re looking for a coach that not only can keep us competitive but help us get to that next step as a program,” Smith said. “We want coaches who are passionate and want to be here.”

For now, assistant coaches Nathan Crumley and Sam Cotton will be running the program until a new coach is in place.

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