On Friday, Combine Academy announced the hiring of their newest head coach–Ben Betts. The former Roanoke guard has become a staple in college coaching over the last three-plus decades, accumulating 34 years of experience in the collegiate ranks. After beginning his coaching career at South Carolina State, Betts has been an assistant at College of Charleston, VCU, Oklahoma, Tennessee State, IPFW, Georgia Southern, Western Carolina, and Winthrop. Additionally, he was the head coach of South Carolina State for a three-year stretch from 2003 to 2006. Betts also spent time as a Director of Basketball Operations for Spectrum Sports.

Given his extensive knowledge of the game and watching things gradually change throughout the years, Betts will bring his own unique identity to Combine Academy. However, it’s clear that he intends to maintain the level of success achieved by the previous two regimes. We spoke to Betts about his goals, vision, and expectations for his new position:

What made you decide to accept the position at Combine?

BB: “Being a college coach, I’ve had pretty good awareness with Combine. The ownership group has definitely been on the same page with me along the way. The vision is similar to a college position, in my eyes. Between the campus, structure, and day-to-day, there’s a lot of ways to utilize this situation to make the transition to college easier for these players. There’s been a lot of success here, especially on the basketball side. Ultimately, the opportunity to be a head coach and teach talented players. The administration is fantastic. It’s a place where I really believe basketball is important.”

Following two successful coaches in Jeff McInnis and Mike Wright, what changes do you intend to implement while maintaining the previous level of success?

BB: “I certainly want to maintain the level of success those guys enjoyed. I know them both as coaches and people, and they are both fantastic. It’s important for me to come in and be a part of that. I want to utilize my experiences as a Division I college coach and assistant to help these young guys in our program and prepare them beyond high school. There are a lot of physical and emotional demands that come with the preparation process. I plan to treat it like a college job. That’s my mindset coming in. From my perspective, those are the things I want to bring here to Combine. I understand the importance placed on winning, and I plan to continue winning.”

What is your overall vision for the program?

BB: “We want to work hard to put together a roster with a lot of versatility. Guys who can play a lot of positions. Toughness. Defending. Aggression offensively. Looking for the mindset of guys who want to play together and care about winning. Players who work hard on and off the court, and in the classroom. Guys have to be ready to step into that area, and make sure their individual brand is important. Want to give them the opportunity to get the exposure to get what they deserve. Individuals who can do multiple things on both sides of the ball. Those are some of the traits we are looking for. High-character people.”

How do you plan to navigate the new landscape?

BB: “Choosing Combine is a big part. These guys have bought in to the new structure and navigating the obstacles. Being able to be on the floor and work with guys as much as I want is a huge asset. The school is an attractive situation for players, and they’ve shown that. This has to be a place where kids are happy, valued, and getting what they want out of the process. Seeing the growth and positives will be a huge part for the players. They will be able to take advantage of a lot between the location, opportunity, and ability to get better. The structure, especially academically, is a lot like college. Guys can really get prepared for the next level. Now, more than ever, you have to be more prepared. High school guys are getting overlooked, and we will look to position these players to avoid that happening. Lastly, being a part of Overtime Elite (OTE) is a very neat opportunity. Our guys will have a great chance to play against really great competition. It was a big factor in what appealed to this situation.”

Ultimately, the program has seen nothing but success over the last five years. Coach Betts will definitely be adding his own wrinkles, and it’s clear that he’s going to harness his college coaching experience to create better circumstances for these high school prospects. His excitement for the high school ranks is almost tangible, especially now that he’s found a home with one of the premier programs in the country at Combine Academy.

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