HICKORY, N.C. – Andy Poplin, whose basketball coaching resume includes one season as an assistant coach at West Caldwell and from 1989-1992 at College Park Junior High as an assistant, was hired Monday night as the head varsity boys’ basketball coach at Hickory High.
A news release on Monday night from the Hickory Public Schools said a teaching contract for Poplin -- who coached a state 3A title team at Concord in 2007 -- was approved by the school system’s board of education.
Poplin fills a position vacated by the retirement of Lavell Hall. Hall coached the Red Tornadoes last season, taking over for a pre-determined one season period after former head coach Shawn Johnson was indicted by a Catawba Country grand jury last August with five counts of indecent liberties with a student.
Poplin, 42, has served as a head varsity coach at two Cabarrus County schools, first at Mount Pleasant (1994 through 2003) and then four seasons at Concord. He resigned after the 2007 season, after acknowledging two North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) rules governing working with players out of season were violated.
Poplin currently teaches elementary physical education in Cabarrus County. A Lenoir-Rhyne University graduate, he has a bachelor’s degree in physical education and is pursuing a master’s degree in health education at Charlotte.
“I am thrilled to get the opportunity to return to Hickory… Hickory High was always a dream destination for me,” Poplin said in the news release. “I hope to bring my unique and innovative approach and mindset to coaching, training, educating and inspiring the young players in Hickory.
“I love to use basketball as a vehicle to motivate and inspire young people to reach their potential as a player, but more importantly as a person.”
In 2006, Poplin’s team at Concord went 25-6, falling 79-75 in the state 3A game against Greensboro Dudley. The next year, the Spiders beat Kinston 85-79 to win a state 3A title and finish 27-4.
Poplin has been a basketball clinic speaker at Charlotte and North Carolina and an Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympic coach since 1992. Since 2005, he has coached the Chris Paul All-Stars. He coached the 2013 Chris Paul national travel team in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League and guided the team last week in a competition in Los Angeles.
Poplin was an assistant coach at West Caldwell in 1992-93, the news release said.
At HHS, Poplin will guide a program that has posted nine straight winning seasons and won at least 22 games in each of the last six seasons.
After losing to Hunter Huss in the West 3A Regional title game in 2010-2011 under Johnson, the Red Tornadoes reached the state 3A championship game the next season. Beaten by Rocky Mount in the state final, Hickory finished 28-4.
Hall, a former Lincolnton head coach and Appalachian State assistant, agreed to then coach the Red Tornadoes for one season. He guided them to a 9-3 record and second place tie in the Northwestern 3A-4A last season and 22-7 overall record. Fred T. Foard eliminated HHS in the second round of the state playoffs.
“My goal throughout the process was to find just the right fit for our players,” HHS principal Dr. Ann Stalnaker said the news release. “Coach Poplin has the energy and passion for basketball to motivate our young men’s efforts on the court and in the classroom.
“We are thrilled to have him join our team at Hickory High.”