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Jeff Kidder has never coached a high school basketball game or guided a team in Kentucky, but the Flaherty (Meade County) native brings 20+ years of coaching experience to his new position as head boys’ basketball coach at Taylor County High School.
“We’re really excited,” Kidder said on Tuesday night after Taylor County superintendent Roger Cook announced his hiring at the school’s annual board meeting. “It’s a great opportunity for our family.
“I really wanted to coach in a county school system because I know the community gets behind your program,” Kidder said of his decision. “I want my kids to experience that.
“My only connection was in my talks with Cook, (principal Junior) Higdon and (athletics director Jeff) Gumm and they were very impressive.
“I felt like after meeting with the administration, that this would be a great fit.
“And, I wouldn’t have coached high school basketball in any other state, but Kentucky. I’ve always wanted to coach high school basketball in the state of Kentucky.”
The 49-year-old Kidder is married to Monica (a nurse and native of Mandeville, La.) and they have two children — Bailey Jane (age 12) and Jacob (age 10).
Kidder comes to TCHS after being an assistant on Billy Gillispie’s staff at Texas Tech this past season after a 16-year head coaching career in the junior college ranks.
Kidder, who was a student assistant under Eddie Sutton at the University of Kentucky, started his full-time status as an assistant at West Texas State University in 1990. His first head coaching job came at Howard Community College (Big Spring, Tex.) and after two seasons there moved to Nevada as an assistant on Pat Foster’s staff.
It was then back to the JC ranks as head coach at Dixie State (St. George, Utah) and Indian Hills Community College (Ottumwa, Iowa) before ending up in Lubbock.
At Dixie State, Kidder’s squad won the national championship in 2002 and he was named NJCAA and NABC Coach of the Year. In 2004, he was rated the No. 1 Junior College Coach in the Country by Basketball Times.
His junior-college teams received six national tournament bids and captured eight conference and six regional championships.
His teams at Howard and Dixie State had graduation rates of 100 percent (53-53) while his Indians Hills squad graduated 27 of 28 players.
Kidder, who was named conference coach of the year eight times and was district and region coach of the year six times, coached eight first-team All-Americans.
His 16-year-record as a head junior college coach is 432-107 (.8015) was the number-one rated percentage before his move to Texas Tech.
However, it was his love to raise his children in Kentucky and getting back close to his family in Flaherty that was the ultimate factor in him leaving Texas Tech.
“Coach Sutton gave me my chance and I’ve known coach Gillispie for 17 or 18 years,” Kidder said of his background.
“But, coach Gillispie is a great guy and he understands about the state of Kentucky and high school basketball there. He can appreciate me wanting to spend more time with my family.
“My children haven’t been around their cousins and grandparents and I wasn’t getting to see them much myself with all the travel and recruiting.
“Your kids are only young once.
“I’ve had an unbelievable run in college basketball. I’ve had a lot of good players and been around a lot of good people.”
Kidder wants to bring most of his collegiate style to the high school scene.
“Offensively, our teams will want to get up and down the court, share the ball and be very unselfish,” Kidder offered.
“We need to be smart with the ball and set good screens and have good floor spacing.
“I want our offense to be explosive and score off our defense where we’re going to really guard people, press and get after people the full length of the court.
“The fans will appreciate how hard we play and the players will love our style of play — collegiate style including a lot of those same type drills.
“But, no matter where you are, basketball is basketball and you have to have the fundamentals.”
Kidder has a 1989 B.A. in Secondary Education from UK with a focus in Physical Education and Health.
Kidder will replace Troy Young, who resigned in March after 12 seasons (208-150) as head coach of the Cardinals with five 20th District tournament titles and 11 Fifth Region Tourney appearances.
“I really wanted to coach in a good school district and from my days at Meade County in the Fifth Region I was familiar with the tradition of Taylor County with coach Fred Waddle and Clem Haskins,” Kidder concluded. “This was a gut-wrenching decision since I’ve been a college coach all my life. But, I’ve had a great run and my fire’s still burning.”