Buford hires young, proven hoops coach

Class AA Buford has lured the leader of one of AAAAA's most successful basketball programs as its new boys basketball coach.

Centennial's Allen Whitehart was approved by the school board as the Wolves' new head coach late Monday night and was introduced to his new Buford players on Tuesday evening. The 35-year-old brings a strong list of accomplishments from his seven seasons with the Knights, including the past four as head coach.

Whitehart was 97-25 in four seasons as head coach, with a 56-4 mark in region play. His 2006-07 team reached the AAAAA finals before losing by a point to Norcross.

"Obviously he's coming from a AAAAA school and that's always a little adjustment to the AA level," Buford athletic director Dexter Wood said. "I had to do that, too, coming here from Marietta (in football). But I think if you're a coach, you can coach at any level, and he's a great young coach. He's had a great young coaching career."

Whitehart got into high school coaching later than most, serving 31/2 years in the Marine Corps and also working in the corporate gym industry. He attended North Carolina for two years but moved to Atlanta when he had a year left in school so his future wife Kelly could attend law school at Emory.

A chance meeting with former Greater Atlanta Christian basketball star Cindy Brogdon, a 1976 Olympian and two-time All-American at Tennessee, led to his start in coaching. Brogdon, a native of Buford, worked at Centennial and helped Whitehart get an assistant job at her school. He held that position for three seasons before he was named head coach.

Now he's the head coach of a promising Buford team that relied on young talent last season.

"Their level of commitment to excellence is great at Buford and not just in football, it's girls basketball and all sports," Whitehart said. "From the administration down, there's a commitment to excellence. I've always looked at them from afar, but I took a closer look when this job came open and I was just blown away. It's even more impressive from the inside."

Whitehart replaces Milt Travis, who coached the Wolves for the past eight seasons. Travis had a 136-87 record there with four 20-win seasons, two Final Four trips and one state runner-up finish.

His final three teams missed the state tournament and his last team, a young one, finished 9-16.

"The potential is great, they've been successful before under Coach Travis and they were very successful a couple of years ago," Whitehart said. "With the commitment to excellence they have and the kinds of kids that are attracted to Buford, the potential is there to have a very good program."

Whitehart's first staff at Buford will include community coach Raymond Wilkins, who the coach said was his "right-hand man" as his assistant head coach for four seasons at Centennial.

"I'm just overwhelmed and excited," Whitehart said. "It's all kinds of emotions in one. It's definitely a job I'm thrilled to have and I'm looking forward to the kind of success I think we can have there."