Kevin Thompson took the helm of the Walkertown boys basketball program just a few years ago, but the Wolfpack will be on the hunt for a new head coach again.
Thompson announced his resignation Wednesday through a post from the basketball program’s Twitter account. The former N.C. State standout and Glenn graduate who took over the Wolfpack after Matt Tamer stepped down in February 2016, pushed the team to new heights in four seasons. Among the highlights was a share of a Western Piedmont Athletic 2-A championship and conference tournament title.
“I guess I’ve been thinking, since I retired from basketball, I’ve been involved with basketball and coaching in some shape or form,” Thompson said. “So, I feel like now, I want to give myself an opportunity to kind of look at a few other things.”
Thompson said he didn’t know what future “endeavors” were in store. The vacancy is just one of several among boys basketball programs in Forsyth County, including Winston-Salem Prep and East Forsyth.
Chad Sapp, the athletics director at Walkertown, said Thompson sent him a resignation letter Tuesday. Thompson’s son, Khyre, finished his freshman season at UNCG, and he desired more time to watch the 6-foot-6 Wesleyan Christian grad play in college. Thompson remains a teacher within the occupational course of study program at the high school.
“I’ve missed a lot through my own personal and professional career and coaching,” Thompson said. “This whole pandemic has allowed me to just step back and look at life. And want to have, between teaching (exceptional children) and coaching, it takes a lot of time and any coach will tell you that.
“But I really wanted to be in a position where I could give him a little time his last two years at UNCG.”
Thompson played at N.C. State from 1989 to 1993, averaging 15 points per game during his final two seasons, before his selection in the NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. The Winston-Salem native spent a season with the franchise, later playing 15 years professionally in four countries. Thompson served on Keith Gatlin’s coaching staff at Wesleyan, with the team winning NCISAA Class 3-A titles in 2013 and 2014 with Theo Pinson and Harry Giles.
Thompson took over the Wolfpack to start the 2016-17 season, its last in the Northwest 1-A before joining the Western Piedmont Athletic 2-A, and led his teams to a 59-37 record over four seasons after the teams had won 13 games in the previous four.
“After leaving Wesleyan and winning two state championships down there, I was looking for a new challenge,” Thompson. “And, to come and be a head coach at Walkertown, really was the challenge that I was looking for.”
Jalen Cone, who averaged eight points last season as a freshman at Virginia Tech, was a key contributor during Thompson’s tenure. He averaged 34.4 points during the 2017-18 season, when Walkertown finished 18-9 with a conference tournament championship win over West Stokes. The Wolfpack followed by claiming a share of the conference title before Cone’s reclassification to the 2019 recruiting class.
“He meant a tremendous amount. He grew the program,” Sapp said. “He’s a good coach. … Really good to the kids, really good for the kids.
“I mean, it’s sad when something that happens. But, at the same time, you know that he does it for the benefit beyond himself when he stepped away from the program.”
Thompson’s last team finished 9-15 with eight seniors on the 12-player roster.
Sapp said he’s unaware of a timetable for Thompson’s replacement with principal Misty Walker. The NCHSAA’s dead period, which prohibits workouts, was extended to at least June 15 because of the coronavirus outbreak.
“The situation with the quarantine, right now, we don’t even know if summer workouts are going to start on June 15 because, in reality, how could they?” Sapp said. “You just wait and see. So, as far as a timetable on getting a coach, we haven’t been in the same room.”