SHERIDAN — While Sheridan College cast a wide net, it ended up not looking far at all for its next head men’s basketball coach. Cody Ball, a volunteer assistant with the Generals the last five years, will take over as head man, replacing Matt Hammer who left for Division II Colorado State-Pueblo in mid-April.
“I’m excited about having Cody on board, and I think it’s going to be good,” SC Athletics Director Rich Hall said. “… I think the college is going to rally around Cody. I think the community will also rally around Cody. Now, all we got to do is put together wins.”
The Generals had no trouble putting together wins the last few years. SC boasts an 82-18 record over the last three years, which includes a 31-4 mark last season that garnered the Generals an at-large bid to the National Junior College Athletic Association National Tournament.
Ball played an integral role during last year’s run and Hammer’s entire coaching career in Sheridan. Each year Ball embraced more responsibilities, which made him an attractive candidate when Hammer announced his departure.
While Ball doesn’t know yet what his imprint on the program will be — as he waits for his roster to fill out — he doesn’t anticipate changing too much.
“I’m going to do a ton of stuff the same way as Matt did,” Ball said. “There’s a reason we won 82 games the last three years, and I’m not going to change it too much.”
What will change are the faces. Ball is tasked with replacing all five starters from a year ago and 10 sophomores. Last season’s roster only included five freshmen, two of whom redshirted while two of the other three — Elijah Blake and Jay Lewis — played significant minutes off the bench. It’s yet to be determined who will return for the 2019-20 season.
Ball has already begun the recruiting process of multiple high schoolers and potential transfer candidates. Ball is tackling the recruiting trail all while fulfilling his duties as the director of dual-credit programs at SC, which will soon become his former position.
“I still have a lot of ends to tie up with dual-concurrent stuff,” Ball said. “I’m not just going to leave that all untied and say, ‘Best of luck college.’ So I’ll kind of be wearing two hats for a little while.”
In addition to his five-year coaching career under Hammer, Ball also coached as an assistant, for just under two years, at Northwest College after a one-year student manager position at Mount Marty College.
Ball represented one of 65 candidates, from all around the country, that applied for the SC head coaching gig. A search committee whittled that number down to seven before narrowing it to three. Barton Community College Assistant Coach Brad Witherspoon and Kaskaskia College Head Coach Brian Hancock stood as the two other finalists alongside Ball.
“With the search going external, and me going up against all candidates, that really showed what I’ve done over the last eight years,” Ball said. “It showed how well I know the community. It showed how well I know Xs and Os. Stacking me up against good candidates, I think it brings a lot more validity to me getting this position.”