Former college coach, NFL defensive back Howard Feggins named Warren Central’s new football coach

Howard Feggins

Howard Feggins

Warren Central is looking to the college ranks for its next football coach.

Howard Feggins, most recently the offensive coordinator at Norfolk State University, has been hired as the Dragons’ new coach, the school announced Thursday.

Feggins replaces Mike Rogers, who resigned in February to take over at Paducah Tilghman. The Dragons went 46-17 in five seasons under Rogers.

Warren Central finished 6-6 last season, losing in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs at Graves County. The program went 11-2 in 2011 and 2012, falling in the postseason both seasons to eventual state champion Bowling Green.

Feggins, a former defensive back at the University of North Carolina and in the NFL with the New York Giants and New England Patriots, was on the Norfolk State staff from 2010 until 2013, after which he wasn’t retained.

He also served as wide receivers coach with NSU in addition to his offensive coordinator duties.

Before that, he was an offensive assistant at South Carolina State, Eastern Michigan, Northwestern, Miami (Ohio) and Wingate.

Feggins graduated from North Carolina in 1987. He totaled 169 career tackles in the Tar Heels secondary at cornerback and safety.

Feggins’ son, Jensen, was a junior receiver at Highlands last season.

The 6-foot-2-inch wideout made 51 catches for 1,100 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2013. He’s had interest from a number of programs, including Kentucky, Louisville and Western Kentucky, according to Rivals.

2015 Arkansas point guard Sidnee Bopp verbally commits to WKU Lady Tops

The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team picked up its third verbal commitment in the 2015 class Tuesday, landing point guard Sidnee Bopp out of Marmaduke (Ark.) High School.

Bopp confirmed her commitment to the Daily News. The 5-foot-6-inch guard was offered by WKU on Saturday night, according to her high school coach, Rick Smith.

Bopp also had some interest from Tennessee-Martin and Arkansas State, Smith said.

“I really think they recruited her a little more aggressive than everybody else,” he said of WKU. “They showed a lot of interest and came to a lot of games. When she visited, she really liked the campus and the facilities.”

Players can only play senior-level hoops from their sophomore year up in the area, Smith said, so Bopp came off the bench as a sophomore on a loaded team that finished 38-4 and reached the state finals.

As a junior, she averaged 14.6 points, 5.2 steals and 4.9 assists in a little more than 20 minutes per game. That squad had eight players lead the team in scoring and finished 40-3, giving the program more wins over the last two years (78) than any boys’ or girls’ team in Arkansas, according to Smith.

Bopp plays her AAU ball for the Arkansas Hoopsters.

“Tremendous shooter, tremendous work ethic,” Smith said of Bopp. “She’s at the gym, 6 or 6:30 every morning before school working out. She works out with our young kids and our elementary kids with skill work. She’s going to be a tremendous leader next year as a senior.”

Bopp is joined in WKU’s 2015 class by fellow verbal pledges Kayla Smith, a 5-11 shooting guard from Georgia, and Morgan Tipton, a 6-foot wing player from Alabama.

The players’ first chance to officially sign with the Lady Tops will be during the November early signing period.

Warren East 2015 linebacker Eli Brown verbally commits to Kentucky

Warren East 2015 linebacker/running back Eli Brown

Warren East 2015 linebacker/running back Eli Brown

Warren East 2015 linebacker/running back Eli Brown announced Monday he’s verbally committed to Kentucky.

The 6-foot-3-inch, 195-pound prospect, who’s ranked the No. 110 recruit nationally in his class by Rivals, broke the news on his Twitter account.

Guess its time to get the word out i am now committed to University of Kentucky!! ,” Brown wrote Monday night.

Brown decommitted from Vanderbilt in October after giving the Commodores a verbal pledge in June.

His list of offers has swelled since then. He’s reported to Rivals other offers from Ohio State, Southern California, Penn State, Ole Miss and Western Kentucky.

Brown had 50 tackles through 10 games for Warren East as a junior, along with 1,186 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 132 carries.

He’s currently rehabbing from a torn ACL suffered in the regular-season finale against Logan County. He posted on Twitter earlier this month that he’d been cleared to run at practice.

Brown is rated a four-star prospect, the No. 8 2015 outside linebacker in the country and the No. 2 overall player in Kentucky in the class by Rivals.

2015 shooting guard Kayla Smith verbally commits to WKU Lady Tops

The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team picked up its second verbal commitment in the 2015 class Sunday in shooting guard Kayla Smith.

The 5-foot-11-inch wing out of Fayette County High School in Fayetteville, Ga., chose the Lady Toppers over Belmont, she said. She took an unofficial visit to WKU last year and said she immediately felt at home.

“I really liked how together they are,” Smith said. “They’re like family to each other. Coach (Michelle Clark-Heard) really believed in me, and I felt like I can trust her. I feel like she can make me a better player and a better person coming out of college.”

Smith was also impressed by WKU’s effort in an 87-74 loss last month to Baylor in the first round of the NCAA tournament, she said.

“I felt like Western Kentucky is really moving forward and moving up with coach Heard as its coach,” Smith said. “As far as when they played Baylor, they really put up a fight and didn’t stop pushing. Everybody thought since they were playing Baylor, that Western Kentucky wasn’t really going to do good. They proved everybody wrong.”

Smith averaged 18 points, five rebounds and three assists as a junior at Fayette County. She previously played AAU ball for the AOT Lady Rebels but plans to play with the Georgia Pistols this year, she said.

Smith is rated No. 83 nationally in the 2015 class by All Star Girls Report. Her first opportunity to officially sign with the Lady Tops will be during the early signing period in November.

If she signs, it would be the second straight year WKU has signed a player ranked in ASGR’s top 100. 2014 signee Ivy Brown is ranked 80th by the women’s recruiting outlet.

“I see myself as a growing player,” Smith said. “I have some things I need to work on, but I feel like I’m a hard worker and can handle anything that’s thrown at me as long as I work hard and have a lot of confidence.”

Smith is WKU’s second verbal commit in the 2015 class, joining Morgan Tipton, a 6-foot wing player from Huntsville, Ala., who gave her verbal pledge in August.

Lady Tops to host opening-round game next season in Preseason Women’s NIT; Brown, Smith make Kentucky All-Stars

The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team will host an opening-round game next season in the Preseason Women’s NIT on Nov. 14 at E.A. Diddle Arena, the program announced this morning.

“This is a major honor for our program to be selected to be a host for an opening game in the 2014 Preseason Women’s NIT,” coach Michelle Clark-Heard said in a news release. “Not only being in the tournament, but having the chance to be one of the few schools to host is a sign of the national respect that our program has garnered in the women’s basketball world. I am so excited for our team and our fan base to have the chance to have this event in E.A. Diddle Arena.

“We know that the Bowling Green community will embrace the chance to have this tournament start here in Diddle and come out in full force to help our team keep winning and have the chance to keep hosting in the tournament as we look to start a new season like we closed out our last one: with a championship.”

This will be WKU’s fourth appearance in the Preseason WNIT. The Lady Tops are 6-3 all-time in the event, including 4-0 at Diddle Arena.

WKU last participated in the tournament in the 2007-08 season, beating East Tennessee State and Evansville at home before falling on the road to Notre Dame.

Participating teams are guaranteed three games in the event. Locations for games after the first round will be announced once the openers are complete.

Louisville beat Oklahoma in last year’s final in front of more than 7,500 fans in Norman, Okla. Other teams in that field included LSU and Gonzaga.

The rest of the 2014 field and bracket will be released in the coming months.

Brown, Smith make Kentucky All-Stars

In other news, future Lady Tops Ivy Brown and Shalika Smith were named today to the girls’ senior Kentucky All-Star team that will face Indiana in a two-game series this summer.

Brown, a 6-2 guard from LaRue County, automatically earned a spot on the team and the No. 1 jersey after being named Kentucky Miss Basketball last month. She averaged 24.4 points and 12.6 rebounds as a senior.

Smith, a 6-1 center from Glasgow High School, averaged 15.4 points and 9.5 rebounds as she helped the Lady Scotties reach the state tournament.

The boys’ senior roster also has a few local connections. Warren Central senior forward Chris Porter-Bunton, who picked up offers from Austin Peay and Jacksonville State this week, made the team, as did WKU signees Justin Johnson and Jordan Green.

Kentucky will face Indiana on June 13 at Transylvania University’s Beck Center in Lexington and on June 14 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

 

Season wrap-up with WKU Lady Tops coach Michelle Clark-Heard

I sat down today with WKU women’s basketball coach Michelle Clark-Heard to talk for the first time since the Lady Tops fell to Baylor in the first round of the NCAA tournament last month.

Heard just got back a few days ago from the Final Four in Nashville, and the team began spring workouts Wednesday. We hit on a number of topics about the direction of the program, and Heard’s comments are available below:

MICHELLE CLARK-HEARD

Reaction from people to WKU at Final Four: “I was actually pretty overwhelmed with the great responses. I think a lot of people watched not only the tournament championship game, but they watched the Baylor game. We were able to represent not only our conference, but just mid-major schools in general.”

What’s next step for WKU? “To keep climbing. To put us in a position to be a top-25 program. That’s what I’ve talked about from day one. That’s what we talk about as a staff and as a team, and also to go into Conference USA and embark on something new – a big challenge for us. I think competing at the top tier of that conference is our next step. Then the next step is to be able to get an at-large bid in the NCAA, even if something happens where we don’t win the tournament. Getting in the tournament and winning – not just getting to the first round. That’s where we have to go to now.”

Competition in Conference USA: “It’s going to be, day in and day out, a battle. I’m excited about our journey into Conference USA. I think it fits how we finished off in the Sun Belt. There are unbelievable coaches in that league and a lot of talent, so we’ll have to be mentally prepared. … Our team is excited about that journey. It’s an athletic conference – way more athletic than what we just faced. We’ll have to keep getting better.”

What would you say to people who expect you to eventually move on? “Again, at the first press conference, I said this is my dream job. That has not changed. I want to be here as long as Dr. Ransdell and Todd (Stewart) and everyone wants be to be here. This is a special place for me. No one can imagine how great it can feel to drive up every single day and walk into a place where you know you’ve had something to do with the success, not only as a player but as a coach. That’s important to me. My family loves it here. I’m not far from home. We talked about the benchmarks and where we’re trying to go. I want to be a part of that. I want to help us win a game in the NCAA and see the kids keep progressing. A lot of people look at things differently. When you’re a coach and you’ve done it for a long time, you have to evaluate where you’re at as a person and your family and everything else that comes with the territory.”

Having lineup options next year: “I think that’s what will help us be successful moving into Conference USA and going to the next level. You’ve got to have a bench and have multiple kids at different positions. … I’m excited about being in that position. You can have different rotations at different times – adjusting to the talent and teams we play so we can make sure the matchups are the way we need to. I get excited.”

Govan returning to court Wednesday: “Some baby steps. She did some shooting things and halfcourt stuff. She’s going to have to progress, but she’s released, and she’ll just have to work her way back into full contact. It’s exciting to have her back.”

Recruiting update: “You can draw up plays and do all these things you want to do, but it’s about players. It’s about developing them, but it’s also about getting them. That’s what we’re trying to do. It’s been awesome, because we’ve had a lot of attention from some really good players who are starting to show more interest. It’s good to receive a phone call from a kid or coach who wants to transfer in.”

Update on schedule, which will include road game at Louisville and home game vs. Ole Miss: “We’re trying to finish up. It’s a headache, because I’m telling you now, no one wants to play us. It’s a good problem to have, but not a good problem for me. We have to look at things like RPI and strength of schedule. People have recognized what we’ve done here the last couple of years, so we’re still working on trying to get that finished.”

By the numbers: WKU women’s last year in Sun Belt, future in C-USA

Now that the Western Kentucky women’s basketball team’s season and membership in the Sun Belt Conference are over, I thought I’d take a look back at their opponents this year and what to expect from Conference USA next season.

The Lady Toppers (24-9) faced 21 different opponents in the 2013-14 season. All of these figures are based on the NCAA’s latest RPI rating update March 17.

Average RPI of 2013-14 opponents: 204

WKU’s final RPI rating: 107

Average RPI of nonconference opponents, including Baylor in NCAA tourney: 178

Best RPI nonconference win: Northern Kentucky (153)

Worst RPI nonconference loss: Ball State (132)

Average RPI of Sun Belt Conference opponents: 240

Best RPI conference win: Arkansas State (114), in Sun Belt tournament final

Worst RPI conference loss: South Alabama (316)

Top-1oo RPI teams faced: Three, all losses — Baylor (7), Louisville (8), Vanderbilt (43)

Overall win-loss record of opponents: 311-330

Win-loss record of nonconference foes: 194-174

Win-loss record of conference foes (does not include WKU): 117-156

Top-100 RPI teams in Sun Belt Conference: Zero

Top-150 RPI teams in Sun Belt Conference: Three (WKU at 107, Arkansas State at 114, UALR at 139)

Sun Belt teams in the postseason: Two (WKU to NCAA tournament, Arkansas State to WNIT)

Postseason wins by Sun Belt teams: Zero

 

CONFERENCE USA

Average RPI of Conference USA teams: 146

Overall record of C-USA teams: 274-220

Conference USA teams in postseason: Seven (MTSU in NCAA tournament, six in WNIT)

Postseason wins by C-USA teams: Four, so far (all in Women’s NIT)

Top-100 RPI teams in Conference USA: Four (MTSU at 17, So. Miss at 30, UTEP AT 59, East Carolina at 94)

Top-150 RPI teams in Conference USA: Eight (MTSU, So. Miss, UTEP, E. Carolina, Tulane, Charlotte, Old Dominion, UAB)

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