'I'm embracing it': Kevin Madden looks forward to taking over as Staunton's new basketball coach (2024)

'I'm embracing it': Kevin Madden looks forward to taking over as Staunton's new basketball coach (1)

STAUNTON — The late Paul Hatcher used to say that it was his wife, Judy, who first discovered the basketball player who would go on to be the greatest in Staunton history.

Hatcher, the legendary basketball coach for 43 years at then Robert E. Lee High School, would tell the story of his wife, a substitute elementary school teacher at the time, coming home and saying she'd seen a fifth-grader named Kevin Madden on the playground. She told her husband Madden would be the best player he ever coached.

Judy Hatcher was spot on in her assessment. In his first game on varsity in 1981, as a freshman, Madden had 26 points and 15 rebounds in a win over Pulaski. He didn't let up after that, finishing his four-year career as the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,236 points. He led those Lee teams to a 93-8 record, losing just once at home, and to three state tournaments. In 1984, Madden led Lee to an unbeaten season and Hatcher's first state championship, and in his final two years in high school Madden was named Virginia's Mr. Basketball as the top player in the state.

Now, 40 years after that state title, Madden is taking over as coach of the high school he once played for, now known as Staunton High School. The official announcement was made in the school's auditorium Tuesday afternoon.

"I'm happy to be here," Madden said. "One of the things I want to do is just make a difference in the kids, not only in basketball, but just in general around the school, in the community."

Madden is the third head coach of the program since Paul Hatcher, who died last August, retired from the job in 2011. Madden continues a line of former Hatcher players leading the program, following Jarrett Hatcher and Terrell Mickens as head coach.

Madden was helping coach basketball at Riverheads High School before Mickens got the job in Staunton. David Tibbs, the school's athletic director, told Mickens he should bring in an older coach to lean on for guidance. Mickens reached out to Madden, who returned to his roots in Staunton. He had said the only school he'd leave Riverheads for would be Staunton, a chance to return home.

"Kevin is one of the best players to ever come out of this area," Mickens said Tuesday about the news Madden was the new head coach. "His basketball resume as a player speaks for itself. He works in the school and has been with me for the past five years so he knows the players and community."

Not only did Madden play for Hatcher, a legendary high school coach regarded by many as the greatest in Virginia high school basketball history, but he also played for a legendary college coach, Dean Smith. Madden verbally committed to the University of North Carolina after his sophom*ore year in high school. He officially signed with UNC two years later and played his entire college career for Smith in Chapel Hill.

Madden said the most important lesson he took from both coaches was that it isn't always about basketball.

"Just treat players like people," Madden said. "A lot of times it's things outside of basketball and you have to step back and understand where (players) are coming from."

'I'm embracing it': Kevin Madden looks forward to taking over as Staunton's new basketball coach (2)

Madden had a solid career for the Tar Heels, but maybe there was a sneak peak at his coaching ability his senior season. A story in the Chapel Hill News in March 1990 talked about Madden's leadership.

That season, North Carolina upset No. 1-seed Oklahoma 79-77 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament behind 14 points from Madden. He also tipped a missed UNC free throw to a teammate to set up the game-winning basket. But maybe just as important was the speech he gave to his teammates before the game, with the newspaper calling Madden the team's "inspirational leader." The paper said Madden's words put the team in the right frame of mind to upset Oklahoma.

That was on a Saturday. On Monday, during a practice back in Chapel Hill, Madden tore ligaments in his knee, ending his season. Madden averaged 9.9 points, shooting 56% from the floor, that season, but the newspaper said it might be his off-the-court leadership abilities that the team would miss the most the rest of the way in the tournament. Carolina lost the next game to Arkansas.

Tibbs has gotten to know Madden well, both as a coach and as a staff member at Staunton High School. The athletic director said he hated that Mickens stepped away, but he understood because it was a decision to spend more time with his family. Now, Tibbs is thrilled that Madden will lead the program.

"He's highly respected," Tibbs said of Madden. "There isn't any parent in the community who wouldn't want him to be their child's coach. He's a good role model and he does things the right way."

Madden knows a certain amount of pressure comes with leading a program that has been so good over the years. Paul Hatcher won four state titles at the school. Jarrett Hatcher won one. Mickens got the team to a state title game but ran into a buzzsaw named Mac McClung, the 2024 NBA slam dunk contest champion, who led Gate City over Staunton in 2018. Now Staunton will see what Madden can do.

"I don't feel pressure," he said. "I'm embracing it. I think it's good that I'm back at the school that I love to be at and we're going to see what we can do come this November and December. We're going to make things happen."

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Patrick Hite is The News Leader's educationreporter. Story ideas and tips always welcome. Contact Patrick (he/him/his) atphite@newsleader.comand follow himon Twitter@Patrick_Hite. Subscribe to usatnewsleader.com.

This article originally appeared on Staunton News Leader: Staunton High School names Kevin Madden as new basketball coach

'I'm embracing it': Kevin Madden looks forward to taking over as Staunton's new basketball coach (2024)
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