Josh Epperson, who returned Lenoir City High School boys basketball to competitive form the past two seasons, has been hired to take over the struggling team at Portland High School near Nashville.
Epperson spent four seasons at Lenoir City, coaching girls basketball his first two seasons and boys basketball the past two. He replaces Chris Carney, who left Portland's boys basketball program for the Wilson Central job earlier this month.
"This is a move that is entirely family oriented," Epperson, 35, told the News Sentinel on Wednesday. "We have a 3-year-old and 1-year-old. When we took the job in Lenoir City, my parents were an hour and a half away. They now live in Kansas. My wife's family is from Portland, parents and cousins and everybody. It's about the support structure you need as a coach when you have a family."
"Lenoir City returns a lot next year and is going to do some great things. I feel like we turned things around"
Epperson, who tendered his resignation on Monday, finished 27-32 with the boys program, taking the Panthers to the Region 2-AAA tournament in his first season in 2014-15. Lenoir City finished last in District 4-AAA the season prior.
The girls program won 18 games under his guidance in 2012-13, its most since moving to Class AAA in 2005-06. The Lady Panthers were 30-28 overall under Epperson, whose track record for rebuilding should bode well at Portland, which finished 6-23 last season despite having success in the past.
Corey Brewer, currently a member of the NBA's Houston Rockets, was a Class 2A Mr. Basketball winner at the school in 2004.
"This was not a basketball move first, but make no mistake, we'll rebuild it from the ground up," Epperson said. "This is going to be a long process, but that's OK."
Lenoir City athletic director Greg Boling said the search is underway for Epperson's replacement, and encouraged interested candidates to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We're looking for a good teacher first," Boling said. "That position will be a health and physical education position. And then on the coaching side of that, obviously we want somebody with a proven track record. Someone who can come into our community and fit right in, but also someone who will be there for a long time."