New Bulldogs coach hired
Published 7:11 pm Saturday, May 27, 2017
By Matthew Hatfield
To find just the second boys’ basketball coach in program history, King’s Fork High School Principal Dr. Ronald Leigh and Athletic Director Randy Jessee sifted through a lengthy list of qualified candidates to select someone with an extensive background.
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Taking over as the Bulldogs’ head coach will be Rick Hite, who most recently coached in Virginia at Petersburg High School just three years ago.
When the job opened in March, it was one that immediately appealed to Hite.
“I want to thank Coach Jessee, the hiring committee, Derrick Bryant and of course Dr. Leigh,” Hite said. “I’m excited to be a part of Bulldog Nation.”
At King’s Fork, Hite replaces Josh Worrell, who compiled a 219-122 overall record in 13 seasons. The Bulldogs have enjoyed 11 straight winning seasons with nine regional playoff appearances in that span, including three trips to the state tournament. His tenure was highlighted by winning the Group AAA state championship in 2009.
“I know the type of athletes and basketball players that are at King’s Fork. They’re very similar in nature to Petersburg,” Hite noted. “The tradition is in place. Coach Worrell did a great job building the program and I’m just trying to continue what he has built.”
Hite, 44, grew up in north Philadelphia, scoring more than 1,100 points in his career at George Washington High School. After that, he went on to the junior college ranks and transferred to San Jose State. He capped his playing career professionally overseas in Australia and England.
When his playing days were over, it didn’t take long for Hite to jump into coaching. He spent eight years at Collegiate, a private school in Richmond, serving an assistant coach for basketball, baseball and football. While there, he served as associate head basketball coach for six seasons.
In his first season at Petersburg, he led the Crimson Wave to a 29-2 overall record and spot in the 2012 Group AAA state championship, where they were beaten by Hampton 64-51. That Petersburg team was led by Kansas guard Frank Mason, who was named an All-American and the National Player of the Year in college basketball this past season.
“Kids want to learn and I’m willing to teach. Petersburg taught me a lot of things, especially humility,” Hite said. “It’s in me to be passionate and detailed. I plan to apply those things at King’s Fork, with the community and the fan base.”
Hite, who also has served as director of basketball for a club team in Haywards Heath, England, spent this past season as the top assistant coach for Sarah Lawrence College, a Division III program located in Bronxville, N.Y. However, returning to Virginia and high school basketball was always something he kept in mind.
“I did miss it,” Hite admitted. Being around AAU basketball with Team Loaded and Boo Williams, I was always close enough to still get that itch. I knew once the right situation came up that I would probably be interested. Obviously, King’s Fork is one of those situations and a great opportunity.”
His son, Ryan, will be a seventh grader next year and could get the chance to play for his dad at King’s Fork eventually.
This past year’s King’s Fork team finished 14-9 overall, falling to a Deep Creek team they had beaten twice in the regular season by a count of 78-75 in the Conference 17 tournament semifinal.
“I’ve done my homework. We’re still in the process of speaking with (the players) and getting some things together. We have some things to take care of with the future league. But I know there’s talent,” Hite said.
“We’re going to pressure, defend and use all five guys on the floor. For me, I know one way. We want to get after it, get guys’ attention and do something special both on and off the court.”