After a month of searching, Clovis High School has a new basketball coach.
Matt King, who coached last season at Los Alamos, is planning a 5:30 p.m. Thursday meet-and-greet at Rock Staubus Gymnasium for players and parents from seventh grade and higher.
He replaces J.D. Isler, who left earlier this month to take the vacant head coaching position at McMurry University.
The Wildcats finished 23-3 last season while reaching the state semifinals. Isler was at Clovis 10 years.
Clovis Schools Superintendent Terry Myers said King, who will accept a teaching position in CHS’ English department, was the first pick in what he called a tough decision between eight finalists.
“Mr. King came to the top because of his work ethic, his background,” Myers said. “He has a tremendous confidence about him. He’ll be a role model for our kids.”
King said he likes the roster he’ll have coming back, which includes junior guards D.J. Blackmon and John Dawson, and a community that has a history of embracing what he calls his four values for a program — integrity, humility, improvement and toughness.
“The thing that will characterize us, we’ll be a team that plays great defense and rebounds,” King said. “With the athletes we have right now, we’ll allow them to be athletes and give them the freedom to be athletes.”
King, a 2000 graduate of La Cueva, spent four years as an assistant before joining Los Alamos — two at La Cueva, two at Volcano Vista. In his lone season as head coach, the Hilltoppers went 7-21 and finished tied for third in District 2-5A.
King acknowledged his resume wasn’t long on experience, but felt he’d ultimately be judged by how the team played on the court and how the players conduct themselves off the court.
“This is going to be a collective effort,” King said. “This is going to be something we as a program do together.”
CHS Athletic Director Brian Stacy said the other finalists, alphabetically, were:
• Santa Fe High coach Porter Cutrell
• Clovis boys assistant Vernon Dobbs
• Portales girls assistant Wade Fraze
• Former Hobbs boys coach Russ Gilmore
• Clovis boys assistant Corey Pickett
• Clovis boys assistant Scott Robinson
• Former Aztec girls coach Thomas Shields.
Dobbs, Pickett and Robinson were all members of Isler’s staff.
King said he has spoken with Robinson, Isler’s top assistant, and was impressed. He aims to speak with the rest of the staff in place before he makes any decisions.