Ty Bryant will take over the program in 2020-2021.
For the last 16 years, Ty Bryant has been building his coaching knowledge, unsure where it would take him.
It started with youth basketball. Unsatisfied with the way things were run in the area, Bryant, whose sons D.J. and Marquel both played at Riverview High, decided to start his own league. That morphed into coaching travel basketball, which morphed into Kings & Queens Basketball, a boys and girls AAU program he started in Sarasota. A successful program, too: Last year, the program's eighth-grade girls team finished second in the league's national tournament. In 2018, the same team finished third.
Bryant has also been the coach at McIntosh Middle for the last five years. The prospect of coaching at the high school level has always been in the back of his mind, but no talks materialized until last year, when Bryant says he was interview by a school that ultimately hired someone else. This offseason, there was more interest. He talked with multiple schools, he said, and ultimately made his choice based on fit.
Bryant is the new girls basketball coach at Booker High.
"I'm excited for this," Bryant said. "It has been a long journey. I am ready for the challenge."
He takes over the role from Shantia Grace, who resigned for personal reasons after going 49-31 over three seasons. Bryant said the Booker program's young talent appealed to him. That includes forwards Shaleice Sumpter, who will be a junior next year, and Leah Dubose, who will be a sophomore. Both players made an impact in 2019 despite a senior-heavy roster. Because of his AAU and McIntosh connections, Bryant also knows plenty of the girls who will be entering the program in the years to come.
Booker athletics director Phil Helmuth said Bryant's involvement with the basketball community made him the right candidate for the job, as did his experience coaching at McIntosh, where he turned the Eagles into a championship contender.
"(Bryant) consistently develops players at a high level, preparing many of them for competing at the next level," Helmuth said. "He not only understands how to build a program, but also has been able to maintain a high level of consistency in his program. He values education and reflects it on to his players."
Bryant described his style as putting aggressive defense first. That only requires hard work, he said, and every player can work hard. Offense requires more finesse. Bryant said he likes to play every player on his roster, and he likes to give a roster spot to as many kids at possible. At McIntosh, he had 17 girls on the team, he said. Bryant has only one guideline they have to follow: give your best effort.
"I need kids who want to be there," Bryant said.
Bryant said part of his goal is winning, but part is also waking up the community to the sport in general. Attendance at girls' basketball games at the high school level pales in comparison to McIntosh, where Bryant said the gym was consistently packed. He wants to bring that level of fan excitement to Booker, and subsequently to every school that sees how large crowds make games more exciting for everyone.