Written by: Mandrae Allen Host of Love of The Game Podcast
The day is Wednesday, April 12th. I find myself pulling into the Kennesaw State University East parking deck. There is electricity in the air. As I pull into my parking space, I see many people scurrying across the parking deck and up the stairs, trying to reach the convocation center. The first person that I recognize is George Washington, Head Coach of PebbleBrook high school. George is walking with a purpose, as is everyone on this day because today is the day that we name Antoine Pettway the new head coach of the men’s basketball program. As I follow the crowd through a winding concrete walkway, up the stairs to the conversation center, and into the East wing, I see what all the fuss is about. Media members, current players, administrators, faculty, and staff are all scurrying about to prepare for Pettway to be named their new head coach. I immediately walk up to Coach Washington and say, “How ’bout it, huh?” Coach Washington cracks a large smile, reaches out his hand to greet me, and says, “Pettway is going to outwork everybody. I’m excited!”
And that would become the theme of the day. Antoine Pettway, once named head coach, would outwork every other coach in the country. The next person I saw up the stairway was Jordan Sexton, with the trademark huge smile. We shook hands, and his words immediately mimicked those of Coach Washington, “Man, I’m telling you, this guy works so hard. I’m telling you we’re going to be good,” said Sexton. Collin Sexton followed his brother Jordan up the stairs. “What’s up, man?” I was shocked but very happy to see him here. Collin means so much to the city of Atlanta and to Georgia basketball as a whole. He greeted me and immediately said he had to be here to support Pettway. I had heard all the stories before about how instrumental Antoine Pettway was to the success Collin had at the University of Alabama during his time there.
As the Director of Communications, Noah Alexander, approached the microphone, everyone rushed to their seats to get ready for the press conference to begin. Noah is one of those super polished guys. Like, incredibly polished. He spoke into the microphone, and as his words began to glide across the room, it reminded me of what I love so much about Kennesaw State University. This place is special. This place is first class! Noah reminded the audience that over 67% of Kennesaw State athletes maintained a 3.0 GPA or higher. With the success they’ve had in athletics, that’s an amazing feat. Noah then introduced Milton Overton, who is the Athletic Director.
As Milton Overton took the microphone, you could feel a peace start to fall over the room. Mind you, just a few days ago, there was panic as the most successful coach in Kennesaw State basketball history, at least at the Division One level, was now off to the University of South Florida. Nobody could blame Amir Abdur Rahim for taking the South Florida job. However, it did leave a large hole in the community in which he stood. Everyone knew that we were losing a very special coach and wondered if he could ever be replaced. As Milton Overton discussed his criteria and philosophy for finding a new coach, it replaced all doubt with nothing but confidence in his leadership and ability to guide the program forward. He mentioned wanting the convocation center at Kennesaw State to become the best place to watch a basketball game in the country and that there was a standard of excellence that would continue to be a part of this program. Overton knows Pettway very well as they both spent time together at the University of Alabama.