Written by Corbett Smith
Top basketball recruits Zach Peters, Julius Randle have new coach Chris Mayberry excited about job at Prestonwood Christian
New Prestonwood Christian Academy boys basketball coach Chris Mayberry made the Class 2A state finals last year, with a roster without a player taller than 6-3.
Well, let's just say he won't have that problem at Prestonwood. Mayberry's new roster features two of the area's top big men, 6-8 Kansas commit Zach Peters and junior-to-be Julius Randle, a 6-9 (for now) lefty who's considered a top-five recruit nationally.
(As an aside, check out this ridiculous description of Randle's skills in ESPN's recruiting analysis, where he's listed as the top sophomore in the nation: "He's a tough one to compare so we'll roll out Marvin Williams meets Caron Butler with a Kevin Garnett-ish motor. The left-hander is a pro in the making." No pressure there.)
It's not as if Mayberry, 36, hasn't coached big men before. In his nine seasons at First Academy in Orlando, Fla. -- where he made the state's final four three times -- Mayberry coached 6-9 Steve Newman, who went on to be a four-year starter for Georgia.
"I've coached big men before, and obviously, Zach and Julius are ridiculously good," Mayberry said.
Mayberry was contacted by Prestonwood head master Larry Taylor about the job. Taylor is a former administrator at First Academy, and, when he was the middle school principle at the school, had hired Mayberry. Steve Murray, the Prestonwood girls coach, also has ties with Mayberry. Mayberry worked under Murray for two seasons as the JV boys coach at First Academy before getting the head job.
"I had good connections with both of them," Mayberry said. "I'm happy that they thought of me, and am excited about the opportunity to be at Prestonwood."
Mayberry was 187-75 in his nine seasons at First Academy, which competed against public schools in one of the smaller classes in Florida. He said that in the lower classifications, private schools like First Academy tended to dominate the state, while public schools tended to win more championships as enrollment increased.
He won't have that problem at Prestonwood, which competes in the largest TAPPS class. But, Mayberry added, he won't just compete against private schools. He wants to challenge his players with as much "high-level" competition as possible, be that in non-district games, or in big-time tournaments.
And he wants to carry over some of the scrappy play that his First Academy teams were known for.
"Play together and play really hard -- those are the two things that I really want to emphasize with my teams," Mayberry said.