High School Basketball in Fort Mill

It was time for Kelly Bennett to make a name for himself.

Bennett, a Clover native and son of the former Fort Mill and Clover High boys’ basketball coach Bennie Bennett, has been named the new head girls basketball coach at Nation Ford. Bennett has been at Clover the past three seasons as an assistant with the girl’s team and takes over for Corretta Richmond who took a job at White Knoll for the next academic year.

The similarities between Bennett and his father are ironic. The elder Bennett started to really spread his wings in his career starting in Fort Mill in the late 1980s as basketball coach. His success didn’t go unnoticed as he went back home to Clover and took over that program before moving up in administrative roles at Clover High and within the Clover School District. He would later go on to become the Superintendent at Newberry School District and tragically passed away in a car accident in 2016.

The younger Bennett is looking to spread his wings in the Fort Mill School District as well. Ironically, Bennett’s last year at Fort Mill was around the time the younger Bennett was born. With that being said, Bennett has been around the game of basketball his entire life.

“He started off in Fort Mill and so I am familiar with Fort Mill as well as Clover,” Bennett said.

Bennett said he recognized the talent that Nation Ford had having had to play them last year with Clover. He said despite their youth, the potential is there for them to do big things in the future.

“They are a very talented group of girls,” he said. “To see that and to see how they play is a coach’s dream. They have the drive and passion that fits with me.”

Bennett said he felt like the fit with Nation Ford was a good one especially in the interview process with Principal Chris Chandler and athletic director Jaybe Shackleford.

“During the interview, they made it feel like home, like I have been here my whole life,” he said.

Bennett’s philosophy as a coach is like that of his team being a family he said.

“We will work hard and play hard and get after it,” he said. “We will study and be in here (the gym) when nobody else is working.”

Clover recently had an opening for a girls’ basketball coach as Sherer Hopkins stepped down. For Bennett, the interest in moving in to that position wasn’t there, despite being on the sidelines as an assistant for three seasons.

“It was time for me to spread my wings and fly,” he said. “Her (Hopkins) and I talked about that. I love Clover, but my daddy’s legacy is there and it is time for me to do my own thing and grow.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Nation Ford boys’ basketball team is also looking for a new coach as Jared Adamson stepped down after six seasons resigning April 23. Adamson will continue to be at the school next year and has a 72-72 record during this time as the Falcons’ head coach.

Shackleford said he hopes to have the position filled sometime in May.

Mac Banks: mac@fortmillprepsports.com, @fortprep

Kelly Bennett has been named the new Nation Ford head girls basketball coach at the school.