There has been a change at the top of the Whiteoak Wildcats boys basketball program and that change is a new head coach, as former player Ryan Barnett has been tabbed to take over the position.

Barnett is a 2001 graduate of Whiteoak High School, where he played basketball and baseball, and currently he’s in his third year at WHS as a health and physical education teacher. Barnett has coached baseball for 10 years and is currently a Flash 15u National Major team coach. For basketball, Barnett has coached seven years, including at the pee-wee, junior high and now varsity levels.


Barnett replaces former head coach Blake Kibler, who resigned after two seasons with WHS, as Kibler led WHS to double-digit wins in each of his two seasons, leading the program to a 25-24 record.

The style that Barnett coaches will be a focus on defense, plus a faster pace on the offensive side of the ball for the Wildcats.

“We are going to be a defensive-minded team, and we are going to run and gun with the basketball,” Barnett said. “Most of all, we are going to play hard.”

The new head coach Barnett also wants to see his team put in a full 32 minutes of hustle when on the court. Last season, the Wildcats finished 12-13 overall, and the previous year they were 13-11 overall.

“I want to see a team that plays hard and hustles the whole game,” Barnett told The Highland County Press. “I want to see them play together and strive to have good sportsmanship. I want them to understand defense must be the constant every game; shooting will come and go.”

After coaching various levels in his hometown, including junior high last year, Barnett is now at the helm of the varsity program, and he talked about what it is like to be the head coach for a program for which he used to play.

“It is a good feeling,” he said of coaching at his alma mater. “I have always coached within the community, and I have a lot of pride in our school and community. I can remember when I played in this gym and we were able to fill the seats, and I want these guys to experience what it felt like when the community got behind you.”

Assisting Barnett this season as coaches at various levels will be Joe Michael (JV coach), Mark Crowe (freshmen coach), Wes Blair (eighth grade coach) and James Crowe (seventh grade coach).

Going into his first season at the helm of Whiteoak, Barnett said he’s excited, and he also spoke of the support from his family and community.

“I am proud to serve our community in this new role,” Barnett said. “I am supported by my wife Nicole Barnett and four children Landon, Logan, Liam and Lexi. I could not do this without them.”