Most basketball fans have probably never heard of Richmond Hill native Andy Sharpe, who just may be one of the best young college coaches in the country.
Expect more people to learn his name soon.
Sharpe, 31, was named National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ national Coach of the Year earlier this month at the NCAA men’s Final Four in Houston after he led Martin Methodist College in Tennessee to a 34-3 season, a Top 10 ranking and the NAIA’s “Fab Four.”
That’s just the latest honor in a career that’s taking off. In six seasons, the former Richmond Hill High School shooting guard has a 140-63 record.
He’s twice taken MMC to the NAIA national tournament and is 99-34 in his four seasons at the school, which is located in Pulaski, Tenn., about an hour from Nashville. Sharpe has earned a TranSouth coach of the year honor at MMC and was named top coach in the Southern States Athletic Conference in 2007, his second year at Emannuel College. There, Sharpe was 49-21 in two seasons.
But that was only after he quit his first job out of Rheinhart College.
“After I graduated (from college) I worked in the business world and hated it,” Sharpe said. “I missed basketball. So I went back to school and was fortunate enough to get a volunteer assistant job at Emmanuel College for a year. When that coach left, they offered the job to me.”
Sharpe, then 26, hasn’t looked back. And he may not be looking ahead quite the same way either.
“Early on, I thought I was on the fast track to the SEC or ACC,” he said. “Now I’ve got two small kids and I’m not as crazy about being gone 10 months out of the year, which is what being at a major Division I program would mean.”
That isn’t to say Sharpe won’t listen to potential suitors from NCAA schools, if they come calling.
“I’ve got aspirations to keep challenging myself and maybe take a look at the next level,” he said. “Be it at a Division II school or even at a lower Division I as an assistant, I want to be somewhere they care about basketball and have a following and want to succeed. But I’m happy where I am, too. This is a good place with a lot of good people. I’d love to take Martin Methodist to the Fab Four and win it all every year.”
For more, pick up a copy of the April 16 edition of the News.