Recruiting is a passion of Josh Derry.
Now the former Ohio Valley University assistant men's basketball coach is taking that extension of the game and making it part of his focus as he tries to build a program at West Virginia University-Parkersburg.
"It's not always about the X's and the O's in this business -it's also about the Jimmy's and the Joe's," Derry said. "You need players who can make plays. At the end of the day, if you don't have the players it can make it tough."
Derry is a 2007 graduate of John Glenn High School (Ohio) who worked as a student assistant for the men's basketball program at Marietta College. That's where he made the connection with Marietta College assistant Mike Snell, who eventually took over the head coaching duties at OVU.
When Snell made the move five years ago to OVU, Derry soon followed.
"That was a tremendous opportunity just to see the ins and outs at that level," Derry said.
Derry's background in terms of head coaching ranges from the eighth grade level to AAU. In addition to hitting the recruiting trail at OVU, Derry also finished with an 18-3 record as the Fighting Scots' junior varsity coach.
When the opportunity at WVU-P came knocking at his door this past summer, he made sure he was on the same page with the school's director of student union and activities Tom Yencha and vice-president of student services Anthony Underwood.
"They were looking for someone who could help this program turn the corner and advance a little more," Derry said. "The hardest part for me was leaving the players I helped recruit."
Monday on their home court, the Riverhawks improved to 2-3 after defeating Kentucky Christian University, 86-63, in their final game before the Thanksgiving break.
WVU-P counts on Chicago product Darius Jenkins to shoulder the scoring responsibilities, while Josh Jones (West Palm Beach, Fla.) and Jeremy Roberts (Chicago) have been tagged as team captains.
"Josh is our point guard, and he's our quarterback on the floor," Derry said. "Jeremy is our vocal leader. He is not afraid to tell someone if they need to improve. He is an extension of the coaching staff."
Roster holdovers from last season include Parkersburg South's Garrett Foggin, St. Marys' Cameron Lancaster and Keith Penn from Washington, D.C. Local players also making a contribution are St. Marys' K.D. Arnett and Belpre's Micah Pfalzgraf.
"I'm really trying to take in local players because I want them to feel this is a place they can go," Derry said.
Even though men's basketball at WVU-P is still considered a club sport, the schedule features several NAIA varsity programs.
"Right now, we are not in a conference because of a state law which disallows community colleges from seeking to enter a conference format," Derry stated.
He believes once a local armory is built, that law could change.
Contact Kerry Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org