JEFFERSONVILLE — Chris Moore, a Louisville native and an 18-year veteran college assistant, is the new boys’ basketball coach at Jeffersonville High School, inheriting a Red Devils’ team with nearly everyone back from the 2019 sectional champion.
The Greater Clark County Schools board approved the recommendation of Moore’s hiring at Tuesday night’s meeting.
A 1986 graduate of Seneca High School, Moore got his start in coaching soon after his playing career ended at Kentucky State, taking an assistant girls’ job at his alma mater before moving on to several boys’ staffs in Louisville. But his itch to get into coaching first came during the off-season as a college player. He got to work coach Rick Pitino’s camp at the University of Kentucky and was exposed to future coaching greats Tubby Smith, Billy Donovan and Herb Sendek.
“That got the bug into me about wanting to coach because there was a lot of individual instruction there,” Moore said. “[Pitino] was a mentor in regards to how he conducted things. We’d go work the UK camp. Coach Pitino was always instructing for 500 campers. I got to know him and his staff.”
Moore’s college basketball coaching career includes stints the past 15 years at Morehead State, Southeast Missouri State and Wright State.
He’s ready to get to work on his first head-coaching gig with a team that has several Division I-caliber players in Jacob Jones, Tre Coleman and Will Lovings-Watts. Moore is fully aware his players have their sights on being the last Class 4A team standing in March. Part of his job will be keeping his team focused on the day-to-day grind it takes to fulfill that type of dream.
“This group knows they’re talented and had some success last year and fell short,” Moore said. “It’s also about keeping it even keel so they’re not just looking at the finish line. There’s some steps along the way that you have to achieve also. They’re in a tremendous conference in the Hoosier Hills then sectional. They’re not going to win this on talent alone. Indiana is one of the most tradition-rich states in the country in basketball.”
Jeffersonville athletic director Todd Satterly placed Moore in the temporary leadership role as the team began preseason workouts following the abrupt resignation of coach Joe Luce late last month. Satterly is happy to have a coach in place quickly and he’s thrilled to have one with Moore’s experience.
Moore spent four years as recruiting coordinator during a successful time at Morehead State — the team averaged 18 wins per game — in addition to stints at Wright State and Southeast Missouri State as recent as 2016-17.
He’s confident Moore will be able to connect with the veteran Jeff team that has one player already committed to a Division I program. Jones verbally committed to Green Bay earlier this month. Coleman has double-digit Division I offers and Lovings-Watts is already receiving Division I offers and high-major interest.
“A lot of it has to do with his demeanor. When you watch him, you can tell he’s been around, not only basketball, but high-level basketball,” Satterly said. “He treats them like college athletes. He understands that they’re still 15-16-17-18-year-olds. But as he shared with them, as we were still going with our search, he just flat told them ‘I’m going to treat you just like a college athlete because that’s what you have to get prepared for.’”
While Moore’s career has been mostly at the mid-major Division I level, he has worked directly with high school athletes as a recruiting coordinator. Moore also spent one season as an assistant at Jeffersonville.
“He spent one year on coach Jimmy Just’s staff in 04-05 and so growing up across the river, he understands what Indiana basketball is. He understands what passion the community has for our program. You really have to be close to Indiana to understand that passion,” Satterly said.
Jeff principal Julie Straight is thrilled with the quality of coach the school has been able to hire. Moore, who has a masters in sports administration from Louisville, will also take over a dean position at the school.
“We’re really thankful that we had him already in the building with his vast experience with basketball at many levels, most recently at the collegiate level. He has stepped in on the day-to-day with our team and calmed them. They have trust in him, that’s really the most important thing. They’re working out and with good focus. He’s got a lot to contribute at Jeff High also so we’re excited about what’s to come,” Straight said.
Satterly said Jeff administrators received a wide pool of applicants for the position and some of those could possibly have a shot at the job in 2020.
“The position will be opened back up in April. A lot of it has to do with our needs throughout the building. There’s other things we may have to fill,” Satterly said. “Just see what candidates are out there … that’s not to say we couldn’t stay with Chris or want to stay with Chris. At the high school level, you have to look at everything’s that’s needed from principal Straight’s position or the superintendent’s position.”
In regard to a one-year contract, Moore hopes to earn a longer tenure.
“I look at it as a tremendous opportunity. If I do the job that they’ve hired for me, then hopefully they’ll want me to stick around. If not, I’ll be the first one to tell them, you can run me out of here,” Moore said.
As far as getting to know his players and their diverse personalities, that process is in its infancy.
“It is a little frustrating because you only get them a couple of hours a couple days a week right now. A lot of that getting to know each other and how each other tick and everything will come,” Moore said.
The current players are certainly part of the excitement of taking the job but not the only factor.
“It’s exciting in general because Jeff has so much tradition. I’m looking forward to being able to add to that,” Moore said. “First of all, I’ve been impressed with the school in general. Great kids. Respectful. Senior-driven team and a good core of young guys which have a lot of talent as well. I’m excited about some of the other athletes that won’t come out until football [season ends] that want to come out and join the parade.”