Central Gwinnett girls head coach Cass Cassell, 52, is beginning his last season as head coach of the Black Knights. The veteran coach, who has been at Central since 1991 and has been the girls head coach since 1996, has won 517 games in his illustrious career.
In this latest installment of "Getting to Know...," Cassell talks with staff writer Corey Clark on a variety of topics, ranging from his passion for Kentucky basketball to his relationship with his father to the decision to retire.
CC: You've said this is your last year, what are you going to miss most about coaching?
CC: Not only the relationships with the players, but the relationships with other coaches, too. I really enjoy the friendships I have in the coaching profession. The basketball coaches in Gwinnett are super people. Next year, I may be going to watch their practices just to see what I've been doing wrong for 31 years.
CC: You've won over 500 games in your career, any of those wins or maybe one of those teams - the state championship one perhaps - really stand out to you?
CC: The year before we won state, when we got beat in the finals and we had a 29-game winning streak, that was a lot of fun. We weren't ranked in any of the polls at the beginning of the season, but we kept steamrolling. We had a lot of close games that year and were able to pull them out. It was a lot of fun. And last year's team, we really did well when we weren't expected to do very well. That was a lot of fun watching those kids.
CC: Where were you when (Duke's Christian) Laettner hit the shot to beat Kentucky (in 1992)?
CC: I was sitting in my living room, jumping up and down with joy because Sean Woods had just hit a shot to put us ahead.
CC: And what were you doing after Laettner's shot went in?
CC: I was on the floor crying. I do cry after they lose sometimes. Even now.
CC: How long did it take to get over such a bitter defeat?
CC: (laughs) I'm still not over it, honestly. I'm still not over it.
CC: Have you gotten a chance to see (Norcross senior and UK commitment) Jodie Meeks play?
CC: I saw him last year when we played Norcross. He's a good player. And I saw that he chose Kentucky in the paper, so I called (Norcross coach) Eddie Martin and told him to get working on his 3's a little more. Obviously if he's going to Kentucky though, he's a good player. We're glad to have him up there.
CC: Your dad Glenn was the winningest coach in Georgia high school history until a few years ago, so how much was basketball a part of your life growing up? Did you ever think about doing anything else?
CC: I've wanted to be a coach since about the second grade on. My dad felt when I was in the second grade I would end up being a coach. It's all I ever wanted to do.
CC: Was it tough playing basketball for your dad in high school?
CC: It was pretty tough. I always felt like he was more of a coach than he was a dad. I probably missed out on a few things, father-son sort of stuff, that other people got to experience. But I got to spend a lot of time with him, too. From the time I was real little, I was always in the gym with him.
CC: What TV show do you make a point of watching each week?
CC: My wife and I like to watch "Law and Order."
CC: What's your wife's favorite movie?
CC: (laughs) Wow, I'm not sure. (Turns to his wife.) What's your favorite movie?
CC: (laughs) No, no, don't worry about it. I was trying to see how well you knew her - so instead, what's the best sports movie of all time?
CC: I really like this "Coach Carter" that just came out. My players told me not to watch it though. Because of all the running he made them do.
CC: Even though you're retiring, do you think you'll always be around the game in some capacity?
CC: Yeah, I mean I am retiring from coaching at the end of the year. The principal and the AD know it, I've told them. And I've got a couple of opportunities lined up. One is in the sporting goods business and that would keep me close to it.
And like I said, I'm going to go around and watch (South Gwinnett coach) Mike Allison practice, and (Norcross coach) Mike Lee practice and see what I've been doing wrong for 31 years.