Davis replaces Rider as coach
Scott Davis joined what he considers an exclusive club when he was named coach of the Reynoldsburg High School boys basketball team on June 9.
The Raiders compete in the OCC-Ohio Division, which has produced two of the past five Division I state championship teams in Newark (2008) and Pickerington Central (2012) as well as a Division I state semifinalist in Gahanna (2010).
According to Davis, there's nothing shabby about the outfit he's taking over, either.
Reynoldsburg has won two Division I district championships since 2006, including last season when the Raiders surprised top-ranked Northland 53-51 in a district final before losing to Canton McKinley 57-49 in a regional semifinal.
Davis, who will teach social studies at Reynoldsburg Encore Academy, replaces Chris Rider, who resigned May 11.
"When I did find out about (the job opening), there was absolutely no hesitation on my part," Davis said. "I consider it a premier job in central Ohio. (The OCC-Ohio is) arguably the toughest division in central Ohio. We've had Newark win a state title and Pickerington Central win a state title, and Gahanna made the final four. With other teams like Grove City and Pickerington North, it's just a tremendous league. As a coach, you're always trying to get better and the whole thing is going to be a great challenge. I'm willing to take it on."
Last season, Central won the OCC-Ohio at 13-1, followed by Newark (11-3), Gahanna and Grove City (8-6), Reynoldsburg and North (7-7), Lancaster (2-12) and Groveport (0-14). Four of the eight teams reached at least a district semifinal.
Davis, meanwhile, left a Beechcroft program that has been among the City League's upper-echelon for several years.
Although the Cougars went 8-15 last winter, they were 51-37 in four seasons under Davis. Beechcroft was 17-5 and a Division I district semifinalist in 2009 and was a Division II district semifinalist last season.
In 2010, the Cougars lost to Reynoldsburg 70-64 in overtime in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
Before arriving at Beechcroft, Davis, a 1991 Pickerington graduate, coached Jonathan Alder to a 27-16 record in two seasons from 2004-06 and then was an assistant at his college alma mater, Otterbein, for two seasons.
Davis served as an assistant coach at Delaware for four years before taking over at Jonathan Alder.
"Scott had the whole coaching background that you like," Reynoldsburg athletics director Jack Purtell said. "He's been an assistant college coach, he's coached at Delaware, Jonathan Alder, Beechcroft, he just had a really good background. We're thrilled to have him on board."
Under Rider, the Raiders won five league titles and were league runners-up five times. They also were district runners-up in 2001 and '02.
In 2006, with seniors Javonte' Clanton and Evan Washington leading the way, Reynoldsburg earned the program's first district championship.
The Raiders stumbled to an 8-13 record in 2010-11 but bounced back with a 14-10 finish last winter.
Reynoldsburg had winning records in 14 of Rider's 15 seasons.
According to the Zanesville Times-Recorder, Rider was approved to be the coach at his alma mater, Zanesville Maysville, on May 29. Rider went 79-27 from 1992-97 at Maysville before leading the Raiders to a 217-120 mark.
Rider's brother, Mark, is the athletics director at Maysville.
Reynoldsburg also lost six players to graduation from its district championship team, including regulars Ryan Carter, Spencer Kirksey, Chris Lee and R.J. Raglin.
The Raiders' top player, however, is expected to return.
Wendell Davis, who will be a senior, was named first-team all-league, honorable mention all-district and made the ThisWeek Super 12 after averaging 14.1 points and eight rebounds last season.
Also eligible to return are seniors Jaylen Givens and Mykel Traylor-Bennett and junior Travis Gleason. Traylor-Bennett verbally committed to play football at the University of Cincinnati earlier this month.
Scott Davis headed the cross country program at Beechcroft and the girls track and field team at Mifflin this past school year but does not plan to coach either sport at Reynoldsburg in the coming school year.
"We got together with some of the guys, and right now we're getting to know one another and kind of assessing what we have," he said. "I know that Wendell Davis is one of the top players in the area coming back. You can (build) around a player like that. We've got pieces and have got kids that can shoot it a little bit, and we've got a kid who appears to be a leader in Wendell Davis.
"What's appealing about the job is when you look at the athletes we have across the board. They put some good kids on the football field and on the track, and these kids are all pretty serious about athletics."