When Coach Bryan Wyant first arrived Hughes as the new boys’ basketball head coach, he didn’t know what he’d gotten himself into. For one thing, most players were barely academically eligible to play due to their low GPAs. Plus, they didn’t look, feel, or act like a team. “At the first game I coached, the kids all showed up wearing different pre-game outfits—some in sweats, some in jeans, some in their school uniforms—and with their game gear in plastic grocery bags,” Wyant said.
My, how times have changed. Now, in his 11th season, 12 of his 14 Varsity players are on the Honor Roll, and they show up to play with matching team bags, travel suits and shoes. In addition, many of the boys Wyant coached have gone on to do great things in their community—and come back to help Wyant coach younger players.
When Coach Wyant took over as head coach, he stepped into a basketball program in disarray. “There had been four coaches in the previous four years,” he said. Expectations were low, teamwork was even lower, and there was no financial support of the basketball program.
Then Wyant got to work. First, he made a point to get the players the gear they needed to look like a team. He started with shoes, so all players had at least one item that matched each other. Then, he got travel suits, so the players would look like a team when they entered an away game. Finally, he got everybody team bags so they no longer had to carry their gear in plastic grocery bags.
Wyant also successfully worked with supporters to start an Athletic Booster program. Spearheaded by Kelly Whelan, the booster program began with 15 of Kelly’s friends; it grew, and now it has over 100 dedicated supporters. Boosters raise funds to pay for team gear as well as personal care items for the players.
Thanks to the Athletic Boosters program, Coach Wyant was able to turn his attention to the academic performance of his players. In the early years, he simply helped the kids maintain passing grades so they would be eligible to play. Once the support of the boosters had gotten vast enough, they hired an Academic Advisor to work directly with each player, to reach the goal of making Honor Roll— which 12 of his 14 current players are achieving.
Coach Wyant said, “My goal is for every player to have the chance to go to college.” This year alone three of the five graduating seniors qualify for UC’s Pride Grant by having a 3.0 GPA and scoring at least a 22 on the ACT. Coach Wyant strongly believes that all five seniors will go on to college this upcoming fall. Wyant’s dedication to his players has led to him being named Co-Coach of the Year by Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference. (Source: CMAC Stats).
Now the players are inspiring each other to maintain good grades. For the past two years, the point guard has maintained straight A’s. This year’s standout freshman, Paul McMillan, was inspired to do the same; not only does McMillan have straight A’s, but all while averaging 20 points per game. McMillan’s performance on the court has earned him the honor of being named Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference Player of the Year (Source: CMAC Stats), and has him ranked among the Top-10 high school basketball prospects in the Class of 2022 (Source: Cincinnati Enquirer).
In addition to academic success, Coach Wyant wants basketball to “help the kids see other parts of the world.” For this reason, he helped get the players set up with jobs working at Bengals’ games. Through the Bengals job, plus odd jobs for people in their community, the basketball team raised $10,000. With that money, they traveled to Clearwater, Florida over Christmas break, and played in the Nature Coast Holiday Tournament. Their next goal is to raise enough money to take the players out west, so that they can play in LA or Phoenix. “I want the kids to understand that with a great education and hard work, anything is possible,” Wyant said.
In Bryan Wyant’s 11 years as head coach, 53 student-athletes have graduated from his program. Every single one of those 53 students have come back to work with the team at some point. That 100% give-back attitude speaks volumes about the positive influence Wyant and his program has had on the players.
Many of his players have also moved into noteworthy roles in the community. Player BJ Lowery went on to play professional football for the Denver Broncos. Player Doug Turner, now a financial advisor, recently volunteered to teach the student-athletes about finances and investment. Another past player, Troy Crowell, just received his Masters in Education and hopes to teach at Hughes next school year. One former player, Jamar Mosley, is now the girls’ Varsity basketball Head Coach at Purcell Marian High School (Purcell went 22-6 this season on their way to becoming District Champions for the first time since 2002. Coach Taylor was subsequently named District 16 Coach of the Year). In addition, three of Coach Wyant’s past students are currently on his staff..
The Hughes basketball program has changed over the years, but throughout it all, Coach Wyant has stayed focused on teaching five core values to all of his players. He encourages them to take these values and apply them to everything the kids do—whether in athletics, academics, or outside of school.
Appreciation – Appreciate the opportunities that the kids have been afforded and the generous gifts that the boosters have provided them.
Teamwork – Work together for a common goal.
Enthusiasm – Be enthusiastic both on and off the court.
Competitiveness – Perform at their highest level, especially in the classroom.
Teamship (a term that Coach Wyant coined) – Align themselves with the mission of the team. Not everyone gets a chance to play, but all players are expected to attend 7 A.M. study tables, work out in the weight room after school, and attend practices, often resulting in 12-13 hour days during the basketball season.
ABC is extremely proud to manage the athletics programs at Hughes, and with coaches like Wyant, we look forward to seeing what else can be accomplished. Congratulations, Coach Wyant, on being a true role model and leader for the kids at Hughes High School!