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BEDFORD, Ky. – Trimble County High School basketball fans will see a familiar face in an unfamiliar role on the team bench when cage season dribbles in this fall.
John Leep III has spent quite a bit of time pacing the floor and directing his teams on the sidelines of Trimble’s high school and middle gymnasiums. But always in the past, as coach of the middle school and junior varsity teams at Carroll County schools, Leep was plotting strategies to beat his then-archrivals – the Trimble County Raiders.
That all changed last week when Leep accepted an invitation from TCHS Athletic Director Frank Ragland, Principal Stirling Sampson and Superintendent Marcia Dunaway to become the Raiders new boys’ varsity head coach. Leep succeeds Bob Lauster, who stepped down this year after six seasons.
“It’s always been my dream to be a head basketball coach,” Leep said in a telephone interview from his home on Saturday. “I felt the timing was right with Coach Lauster leaving.”
Leep played varsity basketball at Carroll County High School under former boys’ varsity coach Randy Mefford. Mefford is now athletic director and girl’s varsity basketball coach at CCHS.
Following graduation in 2002, Leep attended Asbury University in Wilmore, Ky., on a basketball scholarship. He was a four-year starter at Asbury and continues to hold records as the all-time leading scorer for a single season and a four-year career.
After graduation in 2006, Leep remained at Asbury to serve as an assistant coach for a year.
“I was involved in recruiting, implementing game plans and player development,” he said.
Leep has been employed as a teacher at Carroll County Middle School for the past four years. He served as middle school basketball coach for two years before serving as junior varsity coach and varsity assistant under Head Coach Carroll Yager for the past two seasons.
“Anytime you play against somebody that’s been on your coaching staff it’s a unique situation,” Yager said in a telephone interview Monday. “I don’t think that’s ever happened to me before” on the varsity level.
Yager said Leep “is a fine young man. He’s done a fine job for us. I’ve watched him play from the time he was little through middle and high school and college. I’m excited for him. He’ll do a fine job over there. I’ll be rooting for him every game, except for when we play them.”
At Trimble, he will be the coordinator of the Credit Recovery Program, which was newly implemented by unanimous approval from the Trimble County Board of Education last month.
Leep is not married, which gives him “a lot of time to devote to basketball,” he said.
In all but his Asbury years, Leep has been a Raider foe as both player and coach. He says he is ready to embrace his new role as head of his former rival program.
“I’ve always had a lot of respect for Trimble County basketball,” he said. “We’ll have seven seniors returning who have a lot of basketball experience. They’ve had a lot of success as younger players coming up. I’ve coached against them when they were in middle school and junior varsity and I’ve watched them for a long time.”
The new coach acknowledged that it will be an interesting transition to make the first time the Raiders meet Carroll County on the hardwood as he has coached all of next season’s varsity Panthers at the middle school and junior varsity levels in past years. He’ll have to invest in a new wardrobe of blue and gold, to prevent accusations that he is sitting at the wrong bench.
“It’s really an exciting time for them and for me,” Leep said of the 2011-12 Raiders. “In the few workouts I’ve had with them so far, I couldn’t be more impressed with their determination and attitude.”