Mike Mitchell took the Greater Atlanta Christian basketball teams to great heights in eight seasons, but he made the hard choice last week to resign as head boys coach.
Then GAC officials made an easy decision, hiring one of the most accomplished coaches in state history as Mitchell's replacement - Norcross head coach Eddie Martin.
A source close to GAC's coaching search confirmed Monday night that Martin will be announced as the Spartans' new head boys coach today in a 1 p.m. press conference.
The hire is a huge one for GAC. Martin led Norcross to its third straight Class AAAAA state championship in 2007-08. The Blue Devils were the first Georgia boys program since Lanier from 1938-40 to win three straight basketball titles in the state's largest classification.
Martin had a remarkable 144-12 record in five seasons at Norcross. Before taking the Norcross job, he coached at Brookwood from 1981 to 2002.
The GAC job became available when Mitchell resigned to return to his hometown of Florence, Ala. His new job will be head boys basketball coach, athletic director and dean of students at Mars Hill Bible School, his alma mater.
"My family's there, my wife's sister and her young children are there, the grandparents are there, it's just home to us," Mitchell said of Florence. "We know the school and the people. We always thought we'd go back one day. We just didn't know when."
Mitchell led GAC to three girls basketball state titles (2001, 2002 and 2007) in seven seasons before becoming head boys coach prior to the 2007-08 season. In his only season with the GAC boys, he led the team to a 26-4 record, the program's best since 2000, and two wins over eventual state champion Wesleyan. His son Jake was a sophomore point guard on the boys team.
Between the girls and boys programs, Mitchell's record was 203-49 at GAC. He has a 592-183 record overall.
"GAC has been blessed by Mike Mitchell and his family for the past eight years," GAC administrative vice president Bill Burton said. "He has been immensely successful both with our girls and boys basketball programs. ... Mike is one of the top high school coaches in America. We fully understand his decision to return home but we are sad for him to leave GAC."
Mitchell coached at Mars Hill, a Class AA school in Alabama with a kindergarten to 12th-grade enrollment of slightly more than 600 students, for 17 years prior to coming to GAC. He won five state titles at Mars Hill.
His son Jake and his daughter Anne Marie, a rising eighth-grader, will attend Mars Hill. His oldest daughter Mollie, who graduated from GAC this spring, will attend Lipscomb University on a softball scholarship.
Jake Mitchell's move is one of the few losses for a GAC boys team that returns plenty of talent.
"It was a difficult decision in a lot of ways, certainly this ball team coming back was one of them," Mitchell said. "They'll be strong, particularly for the next two years. There's a high talent level there. And the young teams are doing well, too."
That program will be taken over by Martin, who also leaves a pretty good Norcross team behind. The Blue Devils lost McDonald's All-American Al-Farouq Aminu and frontcourt mate A.J. Hawkins to graduation, but return three starting guards in Taariq Muhammad, Denzail Jones and Zach Lamb.
They also added a talented transfer in Adrian Hubbard, a 6-foot-7 wing who moved in from Peachtree Ridge.
Martin could not be reached for comment on Monday.