Barry Lewis: Former TU coach John Phillips enjoying prep role
BY BARRY LEWIS World Sports Writer
Thursday, January 03, 2013
1/03/13 at 6:13 AM
Go to Barry Lewis' BlogOriginal Print Headline: Former TU coach enjoying prep role
John Phillips is enjoying his return to coaching after a three-year absence.
Phillips, who led the University of Tulsa to its last two NCAA Tournament appearances in 2002 and '03, was named as Summit Christian's boys basketball coach in August. The Class 2A Eagles are 3-3 going into the Regent Prep Tournament that starts Thursday.
"It's been fun," said Phillips, who was 61-42 as TU's head coach from 2001-04 and was an assistant on the Golden Hurricane's Elite Eight team in 2000. "I didn't really know what to expect. But the kids have really accepted me and are very coachable. And that makes it fun. ...
"I missed coaching and working with kids. The innocence of the high school level is beautiful. They are playing because they love to play."
Phillips, who also is teaching three classes in two subjects (World Studies, Psychology), had not coached since a two-year stint at his alma mater, McLain, from 2007-09. He led McLain to a 4A state tournament berth in 2008 and within one win of another in '09. He then was general manager at Indian Springs Country Club for three years before resigning last winter.
Phillips has more than 300 coaching wins in 20 high school seasons and won a Class 6A title at Broken Arrow in 1997. He led Edison to 4A state runner-up finishes in 1985 and '86. Phillips also has been a head coach at Mannford, Bartlesville Sooner and Stillwater, and was an assistant at Oklahoma State.
Phillips has led teams to eight state tournaments and believes a ninth is possible this season at Summit.
The Eagles won three in a row before a 59-55 loss to Rogers just before the holiday break. Summit defeated Providence Christian (Ark.), Rejoice Christian and Lincoln Christian.
J.T. Lawson is the leading scorer at 13 points per game. Others averaging in double-digit scoring are Jeremy Pelotte and Zach Holderness.
Jared Minnix, who had 71 receptions during the football season, is another impact player and so is his quarterback, Cameron Gilbert, who threw 30 touchdown passes.
"Cameron is a solid, all-around good player, just as he is on the football field," Phillips said. "He can hit open shots, can handle the ball and is a great competitor."
Next week, the Eagles will play in the Shrine Classic in Muskogee.
"I believe in playing tough competition that exposes you, but makes you better and prepares you for the playoffs," Phillips said.
Ex-Claremore coach honored: Lester "Bear" Jensen, the winningest coach in Claremore football history, will be inducted into Cameron University's Athletic Hall of Fame on Feb. 15-16. Jensen also is Cameron's winningest football coach.
Jensen had a 74-25-4 record at Claremore from 1954-63 with two district titles before spending the next 10 seasons at Cameron.
Preps by the Numbers: All basketball teams are encouraged to participate in the Tulsa World's Preps by the Numbers that is updated daily at tulsaworld.com and starting next week will be published every Monday (boys) and Tuesday (girls). The deadline for the print edition is 3 p.m. Sunday (boys) and Monday (girls).
Each coach has been assigned a password that can be used to enter statistics on the World's website. For questions on passwords and instructions on how to submit statistics, contact Barry Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 918-581-8393.
Nominate your players: Coaches in all winter sports are invited to nominate deserving players for the Tulsa World's athlete of the week award. The first winter awards that will be announced next week can be for accomplishments during the past month.
Nominations for boys basketball, wrestling and swimming should be sent to Barry Lewis at email@example.com or at 918-581-8393. Boys basketball nominations should be made before 3 p.m. Sunday. Girls basketball nominations should be sent to Mike Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 918-581-8390. The deadline for girls basketball, wrestling and swimming is noon Monday.